ED FRINGE: Kafka and Son – Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh

Reviewer: Anna Ambelez

Writer: Franz Kafka

Adaptor: : Mark Cassidy and Alon Nashman

Director: Mark Cassidy

Blackout, loud screaming offstage then an explosion of discordant music (Osvaldo Golijov) beautifully performed by St Lawrence String Quartet. The intense opening throws one into this production and it does not let up there. Kafka’s son, Franz (Alon Nashman) begins by delivering a monologue of his fathers, which clearly shows the troubled relationship between him and his dominant father.

The black drapes with four pieces of ‘furniture’ all made of grey steel wire set a sombre scene fitting to the content. The metal bed base with metal springs is ingeniously moved and used to adapt from a ‘cell’ to representing a great burden on ones back. A square wire box transforms from a desk to a seat to a cage and more besides. The clever use of black feathers further enhances the setting ( Marysia Bucole) and Camellia Koo) being creatively used as is the entire set, nothing is superfluous. It bears a similarity with Franz’s life, grey black and cold.

As some performance is at the front of the acting area, no doubt to create extra intimacy, those sitting at the side upstage miss a lot of the action and facial expressions. It is important to give all of the audience its fair share of the action. No matter how dark life is there is sometimes a glimmer of humour, a necessary relief from intensity, there is little humour in this and the audience do need a moment to recover from the tension.

Nashman relates Franz’s relationship with his father who was overflowing with sarcasm and threats, like telling Franz “You are unfit for Life” a sentiment a child does not want to hear. Franz says “I have offered many reasons for the fear I have of you”, A sad soul, “I am free and that is why I am lost” I am a cage in search of a bird” a fair resume of the show and most sad “I have spent my whole life resisting the desire to end it.” Telling the audience he was one of six children and not loved, it is no surprise his work mainly explores alienation, anxiety, guilt and absurdity, writing many letters and books during his 40 years. Even his end was traumatic.

A story of a famous novelist, it is a very intense emotional 65 minutes which Nashman never loses control of constantly travelling around the stage displaying every form of feeling to a held and captivated audience.

Runs until 14 August 2022

The Reviews Hub Score

Intensely absorbing.

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The Reviews Hub - Scotland

The Scotland team is under the editorship of Lauren Humphreys. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. We aim to review all professional types of theatre, whether that be Commercial, Repertory or Fringe as well as Comedy, Music, Gigs etc.

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