By Steven Berkoff
On his thirtieth birthday, the chief cashier of a bank, Josef K., is unexpectedly arrested by two unidentified agents from an unspecified agency for an unspecified crime. Berkoff was teaching at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art and needed a piece for twenty students, so he turned to Kafka’s novel and workshopped it. Berkoff says “Kafka expressed me as I expressed Kafka. His words stung and hung in my brain”. In the premiere in the Oval House, London 1970, Berkoff played the role of the painter Titorelli
“It was eight o’clock/ the city came to life/ Someone must have been lying about Joseph K:” and so K finds himself arrested and awaiting trial but has no idea why. And K will never find out why, he sinks deeper and deeper and flails trying to escape. The play does convey the doom, but does it with great humour, physical theatre and mime making K’s despair and hopelessness absurdist and funny to watch.
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