Kafka: Report to the Academy (Edinburgh Fringe)
A naked man enters the room then transforms himself into an ape to deliver one of my favourite Kafka short stories. It’s written in the first person so works as a monologue and we, as audience, become the Academy. Adrin Neatrour gives is just fantastic with his ape calls, grunts, circling the stage, as he learns to become a man by aping others. Trapped in Africa, he’s caged but learns to smoke, drink, communicate and eventually delivers this ‘lecture’ to the Academy. It's the reverse of metamorphosis, where man becomes insect.
Kafka almost always escapes critical capture but in this is about our epistemological predicament. It’s about identity, memory, learning, forgetting. For me it’s about the process of crippling freedom through ‘schooling’ The child is captured, caged, learns to mimic, learns from teachers, theory, practice, lessons, but in fact loses the freedom he had as an animal-like child. What we think of as freedom of mind is simply the mimicking of others. He learns to ‘perform’ and becomes this ‘performance’. He simply reports. Wonderful piece of theatre, no frills, no artifice – just one man giving it his all. I was pleased to see that Adrin though the "idea was a wonderful send up of the terrible lectures I had to endure (at Sussex University)."