The Actor's Wheel is a touring and actor training company based in Plymouth. Last night they brought one of their current productions, The Trial by Steven Berkoff, to Z-Arts in Hulme. The play is an adaptation of the novel by Franz Kafka, and having listened to 'The Metamorphosis' on the radio some time ago I was anticipating something unconventional. We were greeted in the theatre by smoke, atmospheric lighting,
and loud music, and were drawn swiftly into a disorientating dystopic world where questions definitely were not answered. The scenery consisted of multiple wheeled filing cabinets, very emblematic of bureaucracy, which were repeatedly moved around the stage and used for different purposes. The actors, most of whom were on the stage almost continuously, moved themselves and the filing cabinets around in a complex and beautifully choreographed dance, interacting and then moving on in one flowing scene. The whole staging was very imaginative, using duplicate characters, on stage together, acting out mirror images of the same scene. Four women played Josephine K, the main character; each one taking turns to express her outrage and confusion at her arrest, each one in turn pleading to be heard, and for answers. The performances were all excellent, and I liked the fact that the staging allowed more cast members to take centre stage, rather than a single central character surrounded by a multitude of minor players. The whole production was engaging and the execution very slick; they certainly created a world worthy of the adjective Kafkaesque. The audience was very small and I apologise to the actors if I was a little droopy by the end, I had been up since 4am; the company has not been around long but I definitely think they are worth keeping an eye on if you are interested in experimental theatre.
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