First thing: this play is at the Gladstone Hotel. Which is not just a theatre venue. The night we watched the show, there was some sort of corporate party that started in the bar beside the theatre area about twenty minutes into the show. A very loud corporate party. At least from where we were sitting, a lot of the play’s dialogue was equaled or even bested in volume by the groovy tunes emanating from said corporate party. I don’t know if it will be like that for each night of the show but it was for ours and, I cannot lie, it may have, unfortunatley, affected the viewing experience.
Ok, on to the play itself. It’s based on Franz Kafka’s “A Report to an Academy”, a short story about an ape, Redpeter, that is captured in the wild and learns to act like a human in order to get out of captivity. The story has Redpeter orating a report to an academy regarding his capture and transformation.
KAFKA’S APE follows this storyline, save that, in place of an academy, Redpeter addresses the shareholders of “Graywater”, a privatized military corporation (PMC).
In my view, Howard Rosenstein, as Redpeter, made up as an ape, acts his butt off in a demanding role that involves both a lot of physicality, and the delivery of lots of “read between the lines” type dialogue. (Which made it doubly unfortunate about the party going on next door, as a lot of this dialogue ended up being delivered to a techno beat.)
And the adaptation of the short story into an examination of the rise and activities of PMC’s globally is a super-novel idea to get people to think about what many (including JJ!) consider to be a very serious and concerning issue.
That said…I didn’t really like it. I didn’t feel like there were any moments that really communicated in a “Yikes, that’s troubling!” way, the activities of PMCs. Nor was I crazy about actions of Redpeter that seemed to be for comic effect, or perhaps to show that he wasn’t so civilized after all, but that I just found distracting after a while – in particular, I could have done with a few less instances of the character’s repeated bouts of flatulence. I think I could see where the show wanted to go; it just didn’t get there.
Two Go See Its out of Five.