Based on Franz Kafka’s 1925 novel and adapted by Steven Berkoff, Theatre Group’s performance of The Trial delivered in all areas comic, captivating and tense. Centred around the arrest of Joseph K., played by Joe Goodman, for reasons unknown to himself and the guards who arrest him, K.’s perfectly respectable life as bank clerk quickly descends into a world of obscurity, absurdity and bafflement.
Goodman’s portrayal of the protagonist walked a fine line between pompous delusion and narcissistic self-awareness; his lines were delivered with deliberateness towards the audience which culminated in laughter towards an otherwise fatal situation. However, it was not the play’s lead that brought the most triumph to the performance – the supporting cast’s remarkable use of physical theatre, choreography and voice work throughout the performance perfectly replicated the chaos of K.’s mental state and the disintegration of his life in a way words could not. Paired with the dynamic use of a set of wooden frames, the physicality of the cast was elemental to creating the infinite maze of doorways leading to doorways that faced Joseph K.
‘the supporting cast’s remarkable use of physical theatre, choreography and voice work throughout the performance perfectly replicated the chaos of K.’s mental state’
Each member of the supporting cast brought an element of comedic individuality to the play in their futile attempts to guide K. in discovering the mysteries of his case the acquiring an acquittal. Olivia Allen’s representation of the Inspector utilised body language and thunderous bellowing to intimidate K., a character a generous foot taller than her, and perfectly counterbalanced the clumsy duet of the two guards (Sophie Strickland-Clark and Will Sidi). Perhaps the scene containing the most answers and the most questions was that of the court painter Titerelli, performed by Louis Cruzat, who in his eccentricity and strong Italian accent delivered hearty comedy and bafflement for K.
The Trial perfectly paired the threatening and funny which explained, while smothering, the truth of Joseph K.’s deadly fate.
You can buy tickets for The Trial on the 15th and 16th February from TG’s stall in the union or online here.
(Image courtesy of Theatre Group)