Written and Directed by Greg Allen
Produced by The Hypocrites
Performed at The Chopin Theater
October 21 – November 28, 2010
Greg Allen, Founding Director of The Neo-Futurists, brings his award-winning adaptation of Kafka’s The Trial to The Hypocrites. This two-act nightmare-comedy tells the famous story of how Joseph K. awakens one morning to find himself mysteriously arrested—seemingly without having done anything wrong. Caught in a sort of actor’s nightmare, K. must then navigate through officers, lawyers, artists, priests, lovers, and whippers to determine his fate. Highlighting the dark humor in Kafka’s parable, Allen employs masks, music, puppetry, and his trademark meta-theatrics to tell this surprisingly contemporary tale.
K.’s existential crisis is largely played for dark, rich laughs in Allen’s production, which often employs the Neo-Futurist founder’s metatheatrical leanings.… A sharp, chameleonic ensemble swirls around the impressive Buhl.
Four Stars of Five ****
BEST THEATER of 2010
—Time Out Chicago
Kafka/Allen use farcical absurdity, wordplay among other elements of his creative meta-theatrics style to keep us guessing and building the dramatic tension. Allen employs masks, shadow puppets, music and swift movement to enhance the absurdity. Act one is provocative and interesting. Rich humor vividly brings home the terror of being arrested without recourse. Allen’s theatricality effectively comes across as cautionary parable. His cast deftly lands the humor and the wackiness of Allen’s script and staging.
Smartly amusing … This genuinely potent revival of K. is better acted and staged with far more complexity. Brennan Buhl is a consistently interesting and engaging presence in the title role of title roles. And Tien Domen … is similarly intriguing and enigmatic. … A revival of an important piece of Chicago theater.
With K., his brainy, vivid, playfully faithful new stage adaptation of Kafka’s novel … writer-director Greg Allen, founding director of the Neo-Futurists, has ingeniously captured the spirit of the book while adding just the right postmodern edginess to the original. And his remarkably deft cast of eight is with him on every page…. As Joseph, Brennan Buhl — dark, slender, wide-eyed and just clueless enough — is the ideal Everyman, capable of both anger and humor. Tien Doman, the only woman in the cast, is irresistible as the many different female figures in his life, and her ebullience puts Joseph’s vaguely suppressed sexual terror in clear relief. Clint Sheffer is outstanding as Titorelli, the sharp-minded court painter. Clifton Frei is all smarmy debauchery as Huld, the lawyer. And there is first-rate work by Erik Schroeder, Dana Granata, Ed Dzialo and Sean Patrick Fawcett.
“Brilliant!” 2010: BEST MOMENTS in THEATER
Allen’s staging for the Hypocrites is smart, funny, often wise, and provocative on all kinds of levels. Brennan Buhl’s Joseph K. is delightful, at once bewildered and knowing, he subverts every expectation.
Greg Allen’s adaptation of The Trial, titled K.… is entertaining; black, to be sure, but funny, insightful, and sharp. Brennan Buhl is eminently likable as the abbreviated, beleaguered protagonist. The energetic supporting cast creates a rogues’ gallery of henchman, lawyers, toadies, and lurking souls, all with varying degrees of interest in K.. This in itself is a great triumph; the tale is usually squeezed for every ounce of teeth-grinding horror and Orwellian monstrousness that can be mustered. But there is more. Allen has layered in his particular flavor of meta-theater, and the result is thought-provoking. This Josef K.’s world involves, and in some cases implicates, the audience. The bureaucratic gears that have caught him up also have snagged the other participants in the theatrical event. Those in the audience who know something of the original novel would do well to note what they are bringing to the theater with them. Ostensibly K. is an adaptation of The Trial. But Allen uses Kafka’s story to explore the nature of theater, being watched, and the self. The ordeal we watch K. endure is just as much an actor’s nightmare as it is the story of a seemingly innocent man caught in a misunderstanding with a Byzantine and unfeeling system.… Prepare yourself for thoughtful, sharp, and entertaining dialogue with a remarkable piece of theater.
I am not generally a fan of meta-theatricality but this production is nearly 100% meta-theatrical and it works for me and its perfect for the dreamlike, nightmare-like landscape of Kafka and this work. In Greg Allen’s adaptation it’s made slightly contemporary and therefore could comment on anything from trying to protest a ticket at the department of revenue to what’s going on at Gitmo. It emphasizes the comic absurdity of it all.
—The Dueling Critics on WBEZ
… I was still wonderfully surprised and elated by K., Neo-Futurists founder Greg Allen’s irreverent, funny, athletic, did-they-just-do-that? take on Kafka’s usually dark and malevolent The Trial.… [One of ] the two best shows of the fall theater season.… I’m not really sure what Kafka purists, on the other hand, would think of Greg Allen’s singularly clever, meta-theatrical, weird-funny version of The Trial. Hopefully, they’ll think it’s one heck of an entertaining evening.… Allen puts his unique tragi-comic spin on the grand themes of Kafka’s novel- the cruelty of bureaucracy, the prevalence of injustice, the overall cynicism of daily life – and succeeds marvelously as intellectual provocateur and as master entertainer. Many, many scenes are memorable for their bite and engaging theatricality: … Allen, in this production, creates some of the most interesting stage pictures you can view in this town.… And again, like The Seagull, the visionary director is helped immensely by a wonderfully well-matched ensemble cast. Buhl’s excitingly unexpected portrayal of Joseph K, smart, spirited, unimpressionable, despite the dizzying craziness that his life is thrown into, is up there with Grush’s and Chamberlain’s in The Seagull as the must-see male actor performances of the season.
—From the Ledge