Recently, I have been to watch a play on the 28th March in South Hill Park arts centre, Bracknell. This play was written by Franz Kafka and published by Steven Berkoff in 1981. Themes in the play included love, fear and depression. Franz Kafka had a lot of bad experiences in his life, this was surrounded by over anxiety and depression, and this was a main aspect if not the main aspect of the play, as Joseph K had over anxiety. Steven Berkoff specialised in mime and this was reflective in the stylised movements in the play.
The play is about a man called Joseph K; he is unfairly accused and arrested because of a crime he did not commit. Two men are sent to his home supposedly as guards for him, however, his rooms are searched, his clothes are confiscated and he is physically abused, with no charge. An inspector later appears and K demands an explanation but none is given. The type of theatre of this play was physical theatre; this is when a performance story tells, primarily through physical means, this includes Mime, Contemporary Dance, Clowning, Physical Comedy, and Theatrical Acrobatics
The chorus was a main part of the play and it was effective because it portrayed characters emotions and thoughts brilliantly, the actors showed the audience what Joseph K’s thoughts were throughout the play very well, this was effective as it enabled the audience to empathise with the character at times when he was in despair, such as the time of the arrest and the anxiety he was feeling. The actors would also sing as a chorus, this was effective for showing mood at different stages, setting the scene and it used to work in conjunction with the lighting which was effective as it created different atmospheres in different situations, a good example of this was when the priest was introduced into the play, he was standing on what looked like a pulpit, the lights were very dark and this was reflective of the priests tone of voice, it created a dark atmosphere. Also when the characters were not involved in the scene, they would create noises or they would always be doing something related to the scene, i.e. making noises to create tension or suspense, this had a good effect on the audience, as it helped them to understand the scene better and the suspense that was created sometimes engaged the audience.
Moreover, another main part of the play was the use of stylised movement; this was used throughout the play with the exaggerated movements taking place whilst telling a story. The actors over exaggerated in their movements in places like where Joseph went to meet Titorelli and the paintings were brought to life, also when Joseph was talking to Block about his trial, a lot of the movements were very stylised, this was unusual to me but it had a great effect on me and the audience as points were brought across clearly and precisely, this helped the audience to also understand the play better. As the play was comedic in some parts, this type of movement contributed to this and it was very amusing at some stages.
Furthermore, another brilliant part of the play was the way the scene would change just by using simple block structures, usually scene changes are a bit where the audience has to wait, but even this was entertaining in the Trial, as they made it part of the play and it contributed to my understanding of the play. The simple ways in which the blocks were moved was very helpful, but it was also enjoyable to see in the ways which they moved it to make it relevant to the next scene. An example I can put forward is when the block was laid out ready for Joseph to get into bed. Also, the singing involved in between the set changes were very powerful and effective because it kept the audience engaged and interested throughout, it was still entertaining to see the play throughout the set changes and I think this is the most important thing that the actors were trying to do.
Another interesting thing about the play, was the fact that the actors had the ability to play multiple parts well and effectively, a great example of this was the way Block turned into Titorelli and his body language, movement, tone of voice all changed effectively, for someone who knew nothing about the characters could easily tell that his character had changed, this was effective because the actors were so good at changing characters, the story was easily told and the audience didn’t get confused.
The fact that they were all apart of a chorus, but then had their own individual characters were very effective as it helped the actors to show what they can do and their acting and physical ability was displayed brilliantly. Another example of an excellent character change was Mrs. Grubach to the Laundress, the Laundress was trying to flirt with K and this was shown by her tone of voice with her singing, the way she would sing showed the audience that she put Joseph under a spell almost, and this was effective as it showed the audience that the character had changed.
In addition, characters also went from using humour and being funny to being serious immediately, this had a great effect on the audience as it tried to get a reaction out of them by seeing how they would understand the quick change in emotions. Comedy was over exaggerated through large amounts of the play an example of this was the whipper and his movements and facial expressions brought a lot of humour.
In conclusion, I believe that the performance was brilliant and it was very effective, from the stylised movements to the scene changes, the un ordinary aspects of the play made it effective because it exposed the audience to things they may never have seen before, also I believe it was effective because the audience could feel engaged throughout the play. The only aspect I would say that could be improved of this play was some aspects of Joseph K’s character he came across as a very pompous man, he looked down on other characters and at times thought he was above everybody else, he seemed very arrogant and by the end of the play I found it very hard to sympathise with him when he got murdered, perhaps this is what the director wanted to achieve if so, I believe it could be more effective if he was portrayed as a more innocent character.