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Adelaide Fringe 2015

The Trial

Black Cat Theatre

Genre: Mainstream Theatre

Venue: The King’s Head Hotel


Low Down

You wake up one morning and are arrested for a crime you didn’t know you committed. Actually, you don’t know what the crime is, nor can you find out. Are you any the less guilty? Does the crime even exist? Does your innocence? Who is on trial – you or the system? Your name is Joseph K – you have been arrested.  


A man, Joseph K, is charged with a crime. But, which crime? Why? And, is he guilty? Kafka’s novel, The Trial, adapted to stage by Black Cat Theatre. A very good adaptation it is too – kudos to Black Cat. The King’s Head, Public House, replete with drinks and grub is a cozy venue for Adelaide Fringe performances. The staging area was a back room. We were presented with—at least—one bedroom, landing, artist’s studio, confessional, pop-up court room, lounge room, study and office. Action moved around the room, audience members were encouraged to move themselves or turn for better views; this was engaging. 

I really enjoyed Sasha Krieg’s (The Inspector) technicality – her facial expression, hand and finger placement were admirable. She brought a certain finesse to stage. The male actors did well with their text-heavy roles, however, acting was sadly lost to the text at times. Although accomplished and very funny, Adam Bates (The Examining Magistrate) needs to prioritise enunciation over speed of speech. Hugh Scobie as Joseph K, and Isaac Bates as Block and The Guard were rather good – they should ease into their roles more throughout the run. Merridee Rohrlach (Narrator, Frau Grubach) and Jenny Barry (The Magistrate’s Wife) were both great at times. But, were cast against type, it didn’t work; either swap their roles, or amend the script. Some opening night nerves were visible from all throughout; a tidy production, nonetheless.

Two thumbs up for lighting design—well-placed spotlights and lamps created the right amount of light and shade—easily done when one knows how. Costuming suffered a little from a couple of ill-fitting outfits. The shabby chic staging was very successful. Clever moments of audience engagement and participation—like Joseph K’s “I see now you are all members of this organisation” referencing our forearm admission stamps—added greatly to the production. 

More tweaking here and there, further rehearsal and performance time – I see this production going places. Although, I am concerned Black Cat are trying to do too much; and wonder if adapting the Narrator’s script and role further might help, perhaps, dare I say it, leaving Kafka out and writing their own narration in. Ooooh, I may end up on trial myself for saying that … Well done to all involved, one place I hope this play goes is – on tour. 


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