Joseph K

The delivery of a half-eaten sushi supper on his thirtieth birthday (there’s a big bite missing from his California roll) is just the start of the problems facing senior employee Joseph K in comedian and writer Tom Basden’s contemporary adaptation of Franz Kafka’s posthumously published novel “The Trial.”

Before his death in 1924, Kafka left strict instructions that all his unpublished work was to be burned. Fortunately, his wishes were ignored and I reckon he’d be pretty pleased with Lyndsey Turner’s carefully considered production in which even the deliberately visible scene changes emphasise the extent to which Joseph has lost control of his own life.

Informed that he’s under arrest, he sets about trying to sort out what he sees as a misunderstanding – no easy matter when no one will tell him the nature of his crime and his mobile won’t work. His colleague at the bank seems sympathetic – but is she really after the promotion he’s aiming for? His brother says he wants to help – but the useless lawyer he introduces him to is only interested in collecting dolls. And as for the Customer Complaints Centre – well, we’ve all been there.

Siân Brooke, Tim Key and Basden himself share a host of contrasting roles, whilst the receding design suggests the labyrinthine layers of despair through which Joseph (an increasingly anguished Pip Carter) descends in this darkly comic satire on the absurdities of unbending bureaucracy and the oh so familiar frustrations of everyday life.


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– Louise Kingsley