3-4 February 2017
Reviewed by Debbie Douglas
The King’s Theatre in Edinburgh is a glorious old theatre at the very top of Lothian Road. It is very atmospheric and you must remember to look at the ceiling art. It is easily accessible by bus and or taxi or a brisk walk from Edinburgh’s city centre.
I wasn’t sure what to expect going to see this production. I have never really read about Franz Kafka as it had never been on my radar but my New Year’s resolution was to go to things outside my comfort zone so off I went.
This production of The Trial is created by the Oscar winning (Dangerous Liaisons) Phillip Glass and renowned playwright Christopher Hampton a formidable duo and performed by Scottish Opera. The Trial was a work written by Franz Kafka between 1914-15 and published in 1925 and tells the story from the sudden arrest of Joseph K to the end of his “trial”. This production is sung in English with English supertitles and lasts approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes with an interval of 20 minutes.
The stage is stark with a boxed in claustrophobic feeling with hidden doors and windows giving the feeling that someone is always watching no matter what. The cast of 8 do an admirable job with most of them playing dual parts. Nicholas Lester is masterful as our hapless hero, Josef K, trying to understand what is happening and what he can do to fix it. The arresting officers (Daniel Norman and Paul Carey Jones) are excellent exaggerated characters adding a dark brooding element but with also a dark comedy element. The female characters seem to be mainly temptresses Emma Kerr and Hazel McBain are both excellent as using their womanly wiles to add to the confusion and tension of the story. Michael Druiett is excellent as Uncle Albert and the Inspector, his larger than life persona gives some much needed light moments. Elgan Lyr Thomas is good as the strange character Titorelli the painter as well as a couple of other characters.
The use of light and shadows also add to the strange foreboding atmosphere that the opera instils. The plot rolls along to the unavoidable end in a frantic almost understandable fashion that carries you along with it until it reaches the tragic conclusion.
This opera would be nothing without the music the orchestra are fantastic and really make the show what it is. The music was wonderful and totally added to the whole feeling of hopelessness that the story has.
I left feeling confused, sad and almost bereft and I am sure this is how you are supposed to feel. I have thought about nothing else since and would recommend everyone goes to see this to see what they think.
Tickets cost from £16 to £31 (booking fees may apply).
Scottish Opera: The Trial is at the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh until 4 February 2017. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0131 529 6000.
King’s Theatre, 2 Leven Street, Edinburgh, EH3 9LQ | 0131 529 6000