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REVIEW | The Trial | Push Festival 2017

When Josef K is rudely woken by officers at his house that have arrived to arrest him, he is disconcerted and perplexed as to why. The Trial is a radical and terrifying tale about a respectable bank officer who is inexplicably arrested and has to defend himself against a trial he knows nothing about.

After a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe and a sell-out run at the Hope Mill Theatre, People Zoo Productions bring their excellently crafted dark comedy to HOME’s Push Festival 2017.

The performance itself is surreal and has an overriding theme of power, as Josef K’s arrest is an emphasis on the government’s power and control of daily life. His arrest is unjust, and he begins to desperately fight his case, which leads to his character losing stability. His character progression through the piece is superb as he begins to do things out of character and completely shift in persona.

Adapted from Frank Kafta’s 1925 novel, it is chillingly timeless and relevant. Bursting with symbolism, Kafka became known for his consistent portrayal of alienation and disoriented anxiety. This production is a strong adaptation that displays both the insanity of the story, and the complexity of the characters.

The staging is visually compelling, as they use old wooden furniture scattered around the stage and piled on top of one another, with lightbulbs hanging from strings on the ceiling to create the feeling of a disjointed story. The characters frequently enter from different entrances and exists, climbing through wardrobes and cupboards – adding to the overall disturbing ambience of the show.

The characterisation is of a high standard, William J. Holstead gives a remarkable performance as Josef K. He depicts every emotion, particularly frustration, impeccably through his expressive face. Every other actor takes on numerous roles and performs with distinct characterisation that brings a lot of intrigue and humour to the piece.

Details for HOME’s Push Festival can be found here.

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