Press & Events : NoHo review of The Trial

Review of The Trial by NoHo>LA (Mar 30-Apr 12, 2004):

'Kafkaesque' is defined as nightmarishly strange, mystifying and bizarre. Add these characteristics to a bland plot borderline existentialist and you create a surrealistic state not dissimilar to many of life’s terrors. A man arrested for no apparent reason goes on a hopeless quest to find the answers in a totalitarian society – a victim forever at odds with genuine free will. Franz Kafka’s The Trial currently onstage at Write-Act Repertory shows life as a trap. All the women are seen as sluts, and the men – vehement, sexual pigs – a black and distorted image of what man can be in any place at any time. I have always found plays of this type that have no story and no genuine humanity to be cold and pretentious. But we are dealing with Franz Kafka considered by many to be a genius for all time.

And fans of his heady style should bask in the splendor of Write-Act’s production, which is a mammoth undertaking in every way. The atmosphere created by guest Turkish director Aclan Bates-Buyukturkoglu, not unlike a great European cirque with stage fog and masked clowns lurking around every corner, is an eyeful that lingers luridly in the mind, similar to Stanley Kubrick’s last film Eyes Wide Shut.

Credit AD/Clown Wendy Gough for the beautiful masks, Kemal Gunuc for his eerie original music, Robert Howeth for a massively impressive set design that includes the audience as part of the courtroom, Becki Hoffmann for early 20th century working-class garb appropriately improvised and grungy and garish yet skillful choreography (it demands attention!) to Bates himself.

Outstanding is Ralph Lister as Titorelli the painter who has more persuasive power than an evangelist. His is my favorite scene in the play for the protagonist Josef K buys into the very bullshit that he is burning to overturn.

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