Franz Kafka’s – The Trial at Young Vic
This week I was lucky enough to attend a preview of Kafka’s classic, ‘The Trial’ at the Young Vic
The Trial has always been one of Kafka’s best-known works. Published in 1925, the existential crisis at its heart is as relevant today as it has always been.
This adaptation succeeds in both welcoming the audience with its open plan courtroom set up and use of the fourth wall; whilst simultaneously ostracising them with the use of the open plan set, clearly encroaching on the privacy of Josef K and the other characters.
There is not one second where you do not believe his plight at being on trial for an undisclosed crime. I found myself truly believing his arrogance at the beginning and equally his despair when he finally realises that his case is hopeless. Rory plays Josef K as the great anti-hero, one who does not realise the true peril of his situation until the case is well under way and has essentially already been lost. The guilt he displays over his sexual misdemeanours as a child add to the discomfort of the audience as he explains in great detail these perceived crimes, which in truth accumulate to no more than misguided sexual experimentation.
The set designer Miriam Buether uses a simple courtroom setting with the audience seated as the jury in plywood rows viewing the action as if Josef K really were on trial. When I initially sat I was concerned that the stage would be too high, as I was seated in the front row, causing me to leave with a crick in my neck. But the instant the play began, the true nature of the stage became apparent. Clever usage of a large keyhole, wall-less doors and a travelator made for an effective use of space and a quick set change. The slamming of the doors only led to the further alienation and discomfort of the audience.
Overall this production was a great version of this classic play, tapping into the absurd nature of societal rules and regulations that we all experience in our day to day lives in an extremely believable way. Well put together and executed, this promises to be a big success. And with the recent spate of productions from the Young Vic making their way to the West End (Dolls House, View from a Bridge, Scottsboro Boys) I’d be surprised if ‘The Trial‘ wasn’t next on the list to progress.