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Review: Music Theatre Wales - The Trial @ Sherman Cymru

Posted by Weeping Tudor from Cardiff - Published on 12/11/2014 at 15:50
0 comments » - Tagged as Stage

  • The Trial

Music Theatre Wales - The Trial

Sherman Cymru, Cardiff

Thursday 7th November 2014

With the great successes of last year's Greek and The Killing FlowerMTW have maintained their collaboration with Philip Glass by staging his latest opera.

An unmistakable name in modern music, Glass' style is instantly recognisable and hard to resist. Taking his love of Kafka to new levels, his latest opera (always exciting when a new opera is written) has transformed The Trial to the stage.

Sitting in the Sherman, positively drenched from the rain, I found myself not really enjoying this piece at all. The music is appealing and at times entrancing, yet it was the story which disappointed. Kafka being quite a harsh, modernist writer, here leaves too much unsaid (he died before he could complete the story) and lacks any real sense of suspense or intrigue. Steven Berkoff's physical theatre take on the story is riveting, but here it was as boring as it was uninspired. 

Joseph K wakes up to discover he is being arrested. It is never revealed to him as to why he has been arrested, but he can go about his everyday activities. He encounters a set of varying characters, as he attempts to make sense of his "Kafkaesque" ordeal. He is eventually killed for no apparent reason, as he utters the phrase, "Like a dog!"

For an English language opera, Christopher Hampton's libretto was refreshingly clear to the ears. In a bland set, the cast pottered about more like The Chuckle Brothers and Benny Hill than Kafka. Jonny Herford was a surprise, if a bit textbook, as K. Paul Curievici was a handsome highlight as the master painter Titorelli and Michael Druiett as K's giant of an uncle. Little else sparked in the production. The players gave Glass a very good turn with precise and comforting tunes coming from the mini orchestra pit. 

I'd rather be arrested myself then watch this again.

Rating: 5/10

The Trial is on BBC iPlayer till late November and released on CD by Orange Mountain Music.

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Photo Credit: Clive Barda

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