Theatre Critic and Journalist

Review: Kafka v Kafka, Brockley Jack

Review: Kafka v Kafka, Brockley Jack

Published in Time Out, 23.01.2012

Who is Franz Kafka’s opponent? Is it the hearty father with whom he trades damning indictments, or is it his own reflected self? Howard Colyer has adapted Kafka’s never sent but revealingly resentful letter to his father into a bitter war of words.

Neurotic and melancholic, Kafka Jr blames his father for childhood scars and personal shortcomings. In his shouted attacks, he often seems like a little boy mid-tantrum, swinging his arms while his father disarms him with a firm hand to the forehead.

Colyer interrupts the text of the letter with fragments from The Trial, suggesting that Kafka’s fight is not only unwinnable, but futile. He rages against life’s greatest injustice: that, try as we might, we have little control over our own character.

Best when it is simplest, Leigh Tredger’s production occasionally makes Colyer’s knotty text doubly cryptic. The abstract devices aren’t necessary, as the actors are good enough to carry the piece.

Jack Wilkie deftly retains our sympathy despite making Kafka a pathetic weakling and Gareth Pilkington is drily unrepentant as his no-nonsense father.

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