and Linda are sitting waiting for a health visitor in their genteel
suburban Yorkshire dwelling. Their pet tortoise is running amok
in the garden and the doorbell rings. At the door is the long dead,
highly acclaimed Kafka biographer, Max Brod. He has accidentally
urinated on their tortoise. When Linda goes to the kitchen to clean
the tortoise it suddenly turns into acclaimed (and also long dead)
Czech novelist Franz Kafka. It is with this routine set up that
Alan Bennett begins 'Kafka's Dick', a play both exploring the life
of Franz Kafka and, some what inevitably, satirising the English
production at the Burton Taylor Theatre, although fairly simplistic
in theatrical style, (a trait more than likely borne out of necessity
rather than choice) is very effectively directed and features a
number of stand out performances. Particular credit should go to
Simon Motz and Thomas Eyre-Mansell for their portrayals of Max Brod
and Kafka. They created a very believable friendship between these
two characters, whilst also being able to assert the independence
they both clearly felt.
Juliet Lough was also excellent as Linda, who perhaps was, as the
program suggested, 'the lone voice of reason in a play of madmen.'
Tristram Neal as Father was funny, but seemed rather too set on
stealing each scene he was in, ahead of performing with the cast.
play critically examines the relationship of the writer to his work,
particularly in a posthumous context. This production gives ample
scope to that discussion, choosing Kafka's frustration with his
newly found literary identity as a main theme. Bennett was also
able to squeeze in a few choice one liners, particularly Brot's
beautiful comeback when defending Kafka, 'he has adjectival status
final scene of the play, one of only two set outside of Sydney and
Linda's terraced Yorkshire home is a triumph for Bennett and worth
seeing the entire play for. However, seeing the play itself is not
a chore, particularly with a production such as this.