The Trial: plot summary
On the morning of his 30th birthday, two policemen turn up on Josef K's doorstep. Neither he nor his accusers are sure of the crime Josef is supposed to have committed. He enlists the help of a morally dubious Lawyer before he is taken to court. Banker Josef is thrown into the neverending 'Process' (the novel's original German title.) He is pinballed from priest to warder to police inspector— never convicted, nothing ever fully explained. "I'm not guilty!" Josef protests, "There's been a mistake. How is it even possible for someone to be guilty? We're all human beings here." But his priest only replies, "That's true. But that's what a guilty man would say.". Published posthumously in 1925, Kafka's The Trial has since made it onto lists of Top 100 Books of the Century. It was banned by the Soviet Union and hailed as a masterpiece by those living under Nazi dictatorship.
Legendary actor Rory Kinnear as Josef K.
Rory Kinnear's take on the lead role is epic. His embodiment of the strain imposed by the tirade of humiliations and endless, inexplicable guilt is masterful and had us transfixed. Nick Gill's script compresses Josef K.'s interior thoughts to unfinished sentences. Initially jarring, Kinnear's eloquence has a way of winding you in to K's torment. The last time Kinnear was on the London stage was 2013, in National Theatre's Othello, where his portrayal of insidious Iago won a second Evening standard award, to go alongside two Oliviers and a British Independent Film Award. As well as starring in films such as Skyfall and Charlie Brooker's dystopian Black Mirror series, Kinnear is one of the stalwarts of London's stage. His Hamlet at the National was a masterclass in vulnerability and power of language. His other classical roles include Iago in Othello ("a stunning study of a sociopath" - The Guardian) and Angelo in Measure for Measure ("beautifully executed performance" - The Independent) This latest performance only confirms Kinnear's place alongside such greats as Simon Russell Beale and Mark Rylance.
The Trial film and play: from prose to performance
The Trial has been adapted many times for screen and stage. These include a film with a screenplay by Harold Pinter directed by Orson Welles and the National Theatre's 1970s adaptation by absurdist playwright Stephen Berkoff. But it is up-and-comer Nick Gill who has adapted Kafka's novel for the Trial at the Young Vic. Gill is a surprisingly new face for such an important production. His two full length plays Mirror Teeth (Finborough World Premiere 2011) and Fiji Land (Winner of Amnesty International's Protect the Human Award) were both lauded. He was nominated for Most Promising Playwright by the Off West End Stage Awards.
Maverick director Richard Jones
Director Richard Jones boasts a love of plays "that make me feel as if I'm hallucinating." His background in inventive productions such as Nikolai Gogol's The Government Inspector at the Young Vic in 2011 makes Jones an interesting match for the disquieting themes of justice and terror. This, combined with Nick Gill's script works to create a suitably intense dystopia in which Kafka's story is apt to unfold.
The Trial, Young Vic set design
A brilliantly simple concept of a conveyor belt conveys the endlessness of the "process" perfectly. Kinnear and his counterparts repeatedly walk both against and with the noiseless, repetitive motion without progress, purposelessly swimming up stream. Created by Royal Opera House set designer Miriam Buether, recently responsible for Mike Barlett's Game at the Almeida. Buether's in the round set designs work to both involve and remove the audience. Here, Kinnear, with occasional paranoid glances, refers to the surrounding audience as "neighbours".
Tickets: Young Vic booking
The run of the Trial was recently extended, meaning there are still tickets for the later performances in August. We advise booking quickly as once the reviews make their splash, these are likely to disappear.
|What||The Trial, Young Vic|
|Where||The Young Vic, 66 The Cut, Waterloo, London, SE1 8LZ | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Southwark (underground)|
19 Jun 15 – 22 Aug 15, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Website||Click here to book via the Young Vic|