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Sunday 28 November 2010

Joseph K. - by Tom Basden based on Franz Kafka's novel The Trial - Gate Theatre Notting Hill; highly recommended

On his 30th birthday, the investment banker Joseph K. is expecting his sushi delivery. He is visited instead by two young men who have recently volunteered for the MI something or other. (This could be a harbinger of of David Cameron's big society, or of Ed Milliband's return to old style socialism.) His visitors inform Joseph K. that he is under arrest. He becomes the apocryphal frog, who is being thrown in cool water and remains there until he is boiled because the temperature is increased gradually, Joseph K. is softened up and sapped of his resistance. Bureaucratic institutions, work-colleagues, his lawyer, his family and even the phone-in radio host do not want to believe that even a paranoid investment bankers may be a victim of state bureaucracy. Finally, all he can do is give in to his terrible fate.

Based on Franz Kafka's classic novel The Trial, Tom Basden has skilfully written a bitingly witty and at times genuinely funny play in and of our time. Undoubtedly, not a few people would wish the treatment meted out to Joseph K. to be dispensed on every member of the investment banking profession. While based on Kafka, the play is refreshingly original and can be appreciated even by adolescent theatregoers, who may never have heard of the novel on which it is based. Basden manages to make us identify with all the characters in the play; including those who have to do the dirty deeds. We could be victim, we could be perpetrator. And Basden introduces acidic wit that makes us laugh out loud. A fast moving production, a fitting set and an enthusiastic and skilful acting ensemble make this intelligent, funny, sad and thought provoking play a genuine pleasure for the audience.

This was my first outing to the Gate Theatre. It is in the heart of Notting Hill, right by Portobello Road. It will not be the last.

As for a post Saturday matinee bite, I discovered Otto's Pizza Restaurant, unique in London for its cornmeal Pizza crust. Great pizza from all fresh ingredients in a plesant atmosphere, including free WiFi. All in all a very satisfying afternoon.

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