Hypnotist Theatre’s production of The Trial will be short on costumes, props, scenery, and space—and that’s all to good effect. The play is Steve Berkoff’s adaptation of the Kafka novel of the same name, so you know you’ll be in for a bit of a strange ride through the corridors of beuracracy and power. The cast will be taking on multiple roles each, with the notable exception of the lead: the protagonist Josef K, who is on trial, is the only character played by one actor throughout the play, which provides a nice bit of solid ground for the audience to latch onto.
The rest of the cast won’t just be playing different characters; they’ll also function like props and scenery, filling in the otherwise (mostly) empty stage with their bodies. They fluidly shift between these different roles even within individual scenes.
Relying on the cast for all these tasks is an interesting, potentially risky move. But the actors are all strong and have plenty of energy, and this minimalist flexibility allows for very dynamic blocking. Allowing the cast to constantly move around is a crucial directorial choice, since the play is staged in-the-round; no section of the audience gets ignored thanks to these shifts.
The Burton Taylor Studio will serve this production well. A key aspect of the play is drawing the audience in, making them complicit in the play’s happenings. The semi-claustrophobic, dark space of the BT will surely add to this atmosphere. The intimacy of the space will ensure the audience has nowhere to hide, which is key for this play: its goal is to put the audience on trial along with Josef K.
I’m looking forward to facing my trial along with Josef K when the production begins its run on May 8th.
The Trial will run from 7th-11th May (Tuesday-Saturday of 3rd Week) in the Burton Taylor Studio, starting at 7.30pm each evening. Tickets are available from £5.