Kafka and Son (3 stars)

This article is from 2010.

Kafka and Son

Goodies and Daddies

The fascination of the reading public with the inner psyche of Franz Kafka shows no sign of abating, perhaps because the neurosis he showed reflects many of our own quiet obsessions writ large.

This Canadian production, directed by Mark Cassidy, adapts a 50-page unposted letter from Kafka to his father into a monologue, in which performer Alon Nashman moves between the nervous, twitching son and the overbearing father in presenting a tale of repression and anguish, during which Kafka designates his father as his principal reason for writing. On a set strewn with black feathers, where fireguards and beds turn into cages, Nashman gives a committed and compelling performance, where each strategy of escape from his father’s crushing influence, from attempts at romance to escapes into a more intense Judaism are explored, then discarded. There’s no doubting the dark, intense energy of this piece, but some of the more rambling elements of Kafka’s missive tend to seep into the script, to the point where the piece though only a bit over an hour, outstays its welcome by perhaps 15 minutes. All the same, devotees of the writer might well be intrigued.

Bedlam Theatre, 225 9893, until 28 Aug (not 16 & 17), 2.30pm, £12 (£10).

Kafka and Son

  • 3 stars

At 36 Franz Kafka, author of 'The Metamorphosis' and 'The Trial', was still living at home, a petty bureaucrat, a failed artist, a timid Jewish son with an overbearing father as his constant nemesis. What to do? Kafka wrote, in this case a 50 page letter to his father in which he reveals deep connections between his…


1. FringeLulu10 Aug 2010, 12:29am Report

As someone who has not read much Kafka, I was concerned that Kafka and Son might be over my head. I saw it today, however, and absolutely loved it. It's a brilliant piece and I definitely recommend it for anyone looking to see good theater this fringe.

2. Adam & The Wolf10 Aug 2010, 12:30pm Report

For another view of Kafka & Son, and an interview with the director, check out http://adamandthewolf.com/2010/08/10/episode-7-behind-the-scenes/

3. David K.13 Aug 2010, 9:16pm Report

As somebody who usually prefers "straighter" fourth-wall removed theatre, I wondered what to expect from this show, added to which I feared that my almost total lack of knowledge of Kafka might ensure I wouldn't understand a thing about it. However, I really did love this production. For me, at least, it depicted a fascinating relationship between father and son that was by turns chilling, tragic and darkly funny. Alon Nashman's masterful performance is a joy to watch: perfectly pitched to ensure he guides the audience through the neuroses of the most complicated of writers, he never once falls into histrionics or overacting. It's an intensely interesting and subtle performance.

Though a knowledge of Kafka would undoubtedly enrich a viewer's experience, it is not at all necessary to enjoy this production. A wonderful piece of theatre, suitable for people of any (or indeed no) literary background.

Post a comment

RSS feed of these comments