The Theatre of the People’s The Josef K Files at the Rose Firebay of the John Waldron Arts Center is an adaptation of The Trial by Franz Kafka with excerpts from Plato’s The Apology. The adaptation and direction is by Theatre of the People co-founder David Nosko.
The central figure Josef K, played by Nicholas Maudlin, is an apparently blameless bank functionary who’s suddenly charged with a nameless crime by a nameless authority. Although, no one in the fifteen member cast of characters can offer him any insight or real help in the situation Maudlin, as Josef, manages a certain almost dispassionate resilience as he struggles with the case.
Despite its threatening aspects, the production has a certain zany quality from the setting in a caged set to the variety of characters on display. The judge of the proceedings, Phil Addison, has a bit of a corn pone accent. A sympathetic female neighbor, Keith Barrow, is a cross dressing male. A distinguished attorney, Ben Monticue, spends a good deal of the time as a playful dog. The court painter, Stacy Harris, spends most of the play sprawled in a sort of nest of paper printouts. Theatre goers expecting something quite darkly menacing will be disappointed.
Adapter and director of The Josef K Files Nosko has given his actors a heavy burden in carrying a production that’s rich to the point of being baroque in detail and plot complexity. For most of them their gimmicks and gags outweigh their part of the plotting and they tended to wear out their welcome. Especially in the second act things were a bit strained. One actor, whose part involved loudly interrupting what seemed to be a key bit of information, was I think in danger from the audience.
Kafka never finished The Trial. It’s an incomplete work with more than a few sections that were never completed. Nosko has added sections from Plato’s The Apology an account Socrates unsuccessful defense as brief interludes. They’re delivered with a calm charm from a sort of mechanical fortune teller’s booth by co-founder Hannah Moss. As they frequently contrasted with chaos they were always welcome, but more confusing than enlightening.
The Josef K Files
Based on Franz Kafka’s The Trial
With excerpts from Plato’s Apology
Adapted and directed by David Nosko
Rose Firebay January 22-30, 2010