< back to poems list

The Trial by Stephen Berkoff, adapted from Franz Kafka

Youth Action Theatre

Hampton Hill Theatre - 28 November 2018

The Trial  by Stephen Berkoff, adapted from Franz Kafka

Haunting, Harrowing, Horrifying


The Trial

by Stephen Berkoff, adapted from Franz Kafka

Youth Action Theatre at the Hampton Hill Theatre, until 24th November

Review by John O’Brien


Franz Kafka’s The Trial, written in 1925, is one of the most important literary works of the twentieth Century.  Indeed Kafkaesque has entered the language as a byword for byzantine bureaucratic obfuscation and frustration.  Youth Action Theatre’s revival is Stephen Berkoff’s 1971 adaptation, directed by Rowan D ‘Albert.


The set is suitable minimalist.  Think of a contestant on Mastermind as she sits in that chair in the dark, add eerie music by Philip Glass, and a rope that hangs menacingly from the gantry and you have some idea of the show’s visual and aural presentation.  This chiaroscuro contrast gives the set the feel of a German expressionist classic, such as Fritz Lang’s 1927 film, Metropolis.


Joseph K (Benjamin Buckley) is a young man who works as a clerk in a Bank and lives as a lodger in the house of Mrs Grubach (Ella Barnett).  One morning he is arrested by two guards (Meagan Baxter and Joe Evans) on charges which are never made explicit.  Joseph K. now enters a nightmarish world of bureaucracy, law and unaccountable arbitrary power.  The labyrinthine nature of this world is wonderfully realised by the use of six copper frames which do double duty as doors but also as mirrors.  As he walks through and around these doors cum mirrors so Joseph becomes trapped in a series of absurd and menacing encounters.  He is a victim.  Moreover he is alone.  More than that the people he encounters are unreliable.  So he becomes confused and paranoid. 


What makes The Trial so haunting, so harrowing, so horrifying is the notion that you are on your own, the people you encounter have mendacious designs on you and that there is no way out … …


Read John O’Brien’s full review at www.markaspen.wordpress.com/2018/11/22/trial


Photography by Jonathan Constant



Haunting, Harrowing, Horrifying The Trial by Ste

back to top

What's on



This month



Arts Richmond Events

Virtual Gallery

more details >

The Roger McGough Annual Poetry Prize 2020

Roger McGough

more details >