Friday, March 27, 2009

"The Trial" - March 2009

We've previously enjoyed Glasgow College of Nautical Studies drama students' productions, so when we found ourselves in the vicinity of The Citizens' and at a loose end on a Saturday afternoon we decided to catch a matinee of their production of Steven Berkoff's adaptation of Kafka's "The Trial".

Joseph K (James McSporran) descends into a bizarre world of beaurocracy, violence and confusion after being arrested for a crime that no-one is willing or possibly able to reveal to him. He wanders through a maze accompanied by a Greek chorus who take turns to play the other characters that are part of K's tale.

Perhaps deliberately you only get glimpses of these other characters and they seem superficial and two-dimensional. The comedic guards who initially interogate K, are reminiscent of the droogs in Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, the lonely and needy Leni, the bailiff and his wife trapped in the system. The painter Titorelli is perhaps the strongest of these characters, probably due to his role in shining a light on the choices that face Joseph K in his struggle to clear his name.

It's very much an ensemble piece from GCNS, but Pamela Shaw as Leni and Sean Reid as Titorelli particularly stood out. And although I enjoyed our afternoon, there was also a strong element of confusion within the story that resulted in me losing track in places and lost me completely at the very end.

In some ways the issues in "The Trial" are more relevant than ever today, but that's perhaps its very weakness. When reality contains more absurdities than are presented on stage some of the strength of message is lost. It's no longer a warning about what might happen.