This one-man show is derived from Franz Kafka’s letter to his father written at age 36 when he still felt overbearingly oppressed by him. The father defends himself…or maybe the writer is quite capable of imagining the defence, and speaking as the oppressor is like an extra punishment.
The description of various aspects of Kafka’s life – childhood, mealtimes, relationships with women, work – are all seen in the context of the father’s views and expectations. The dialogue flows fast and furious, and the attention is well caught. Effective as the set and performance were, a greater variation in colour and tone may have improved this further.
The set is sparse but very effective – cages into which birds or Kafka may be put – and which at time the actor confines himself to – and lots of black bird feathers – plus a white one. The name Kafka in Czech translates as Jackdaw. Kafka writes with one of these feathers.
Alan Nashman is a very accomplished Canadian actor who produces a work that is fierce and passionate as well as funny and chilling. If you have an interest in or are intrigued by one of the great writers of the 20th century, an enigmatic figure who wanted all his work destroyed at his death, whose work is dark but also often darkly comic and even satirical, then get along to this performance.