The Trial (5 stars)

This article is from 2009

The Trial

Disorientating, triumphant nightmare from Belt Up

Reader beware. The best advice I can give you is not to read a review of The Trial – this or any other – but just to book your tickets now and trust the company to deliver an amazing show.

Any review of this play is going to contain plot spoilers, and perhaps the main reason for this is that the plot itself, the trajectory of the actual script, is almost negligible once you pass through the stage door into this disorientating, triumphant nightmare.

‘You must wait. Wait to be called.’ From the back of the queue, it slowly becomes apparent that each audience member is being ushered separately into the venue. In the darkness outside, a girl is weeping violently into a corner. At the door, a white-faced form takes you by the hand, and with a sudden swing you are inside, where there are more figures, brushing round, tugging, tying a blindfold, pressing you confusedly onward into the cavernous space where Josef K’s trial is to take place.

For the next hour, you never entirely regain control of your relationship to the actors or scenes or physical surroundings. Because the room is dark its perimeters remain indefinite, and because the black figures and white faces are constantly among us, calling to one another and to us, touching us and herding us from place to place, there is no time for taking stock. At one point my hands are taken up and I am led off on a slow, deliberate waltz through the darkness. Around us, another scene is taking place, but when the dance stops, my partner keeps hold of me, his eyes fixed on mine, warbling without pause to his fellows around the room. I have no idea what he or I am supposed to do next.

I suppose it ‘s the bewildered, helpless participation of every audience member which turns every one of us into Josef K.

There. I’ve ruined it for you now.

C Soco, 0845 260 1234, until 31 Aug, 11.20pm, £9.50–£11.50 (£8.50–£10.50).


  • 5 stars

Nightmarish immersive experience from Edinburgh International Festival Award winners, Belt Up. Kafka's chilling masterpiece reincarnated by the critically acclaimed company behind last year's Fringe sensation 'The Red Room'. Expect the unexpected! 'Impressive, invigorating and inspirational' (Scotsman).