At Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division
Adapted from Franz Kafka’s “The Trial”
Written and directed by Greg Allen
Thursdays thru Saturdays at 7:30pm
Sundays at 3pm
Thru November 28th
Running Time: Two hours includes a fifteen minute intermission
Reviewed by Katy Walsh
Doors slam. Matches light. Clocks tick. ‘Always eggs!’ The-Hyprocrites present K., an adaptation on Franz Kafka’s “The Trial.” Josef K.’s life is predictable and redundant. He sleeps, wakes, eats, works, repeats. On his thirtieth birthday, the routine is interrupted. He is arrested! The crime is unspeakable… primarily because it’s unknown. ‘K’ insists he’s guiltless to the offense. ‘K’ is submerged into the illogical justice system for redemption. Playwright and director Greg Allen mixes Kafka’s ridicule of authority with layers of theatrical farce. The results poke fun of drama unfolding on the courts and stages. K. is a play about absurdity that plays with absurdity.
With Kafka-esque ‘magic realism,’ the first act is a fast-paced synchronization of chaos. Designer Chelsea Warren has constructed a backdrop of various functional doors. Doors become a vital prop in the staged confusion. Additional doors on wheels are choreographed for monotonous intrigue. The crazy, non-stop pandemonium is a despairing spectacle. Allen has assembled a talented cast to play multiple roles as distinct and homogeneous individuals. In the lead, Brennan Buhl (K.) looks innocent and acts guilty with cherubic rogue perfection. Stripped of everything (literally), Buhl heightens the earnestness and the humor of the moment. In a pivotal scene, Buhl maintains intensity despite a cellular interruption. The horrific timing and the woman’s reaction, to run through the theatre instead of turning off the phone, made it almost seem staged for its absurdity. (Guilty woman, those obnoxious constant phone reminders are for stupid people like YOU!). Along with Buhl, the whole ensemble slams the door on reality and welcomes the zany. As the entire female cast, Tien Doman plays sassy seductress with a little bite. Her ‘not as this character’ is deadpan delightful. As the whipper and the lawyer, Clifton Frei is hilarious in very different bloodthirsty roles. Clint Sheffer amusingly plays court painter with interactive comedic mockery. Sean Patrick Fawcett shares an illogical secret with childlike glee and guilt as a memorable victim.
Doors slam. Matches light. Clocks tick. ‘Always eggs!’ The-Hyprocrites present K., an adaptation on Franz Kafka’s “The Trial.” The repetition works brilliantly until it doesn’t. The first act ended with breathless mysterious excitement. The intermission built up wonderment anticipation of ‘where is this going?’ The disappointing answer was to a complete halt and even backwards. Instead of continuing to build on the momentum of the energetic first act, Allen chooses tedious reiteration by revisiting characters and themes. Puppets and long pontifications are clunky contrasts to the zippy mysterious whimsy in Act I. Sure, Allen probably stayed true to “The Trial” outline but the original ‘K’ was never about the constructs of the story. Kafka and I are in-sync on a well-executed second act. “From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back. That is the point that must be reached.”
James J. describes the show with “Just O.K.”