Synaesthetic’s artist collective nature pours forth from its fantastic ensemble. Everyone works in equal parts on this show and that pays off in a very stylistically even presentation. Margaret O’Sullivan delivers an absolutely stunning performance. She plays K. with so much focus that I could see her making connections to the character before my very eyes. She made me forget that she is a woman playing a man. The women of the ensemble, Aubrey Hardwick, Ginger Legon, Tina West Chavous, and Joy Lynn Alegarbes, all play male roles at some point but when they are not playing men they throw feminine sexuality about the stage with playful roughness that is quite rousing. It is interesting to note that the three men in the show, Ted Hannan, M.A. Makowski, and Clinton Powell, at some point all have a feminine quality to their characters. I really enjoyed the bending of gender roles in this production. Two performances that stood out for me were Ted Hannan as the naughty, lap dancing judge and Aubrey Hardwick as the painter with connections.
The co-directors, Joy Leonard and Chris Nichols, create a unique world that is episodic, like a dream interrupted by the reality of bureaucracy. Their focus of the eroticism of K.’s thoughts makes the show into a sort of "Trial of K., S & M"…but that works for the film noir style they establish early on .... Overall, I like that they don’t attempt to over-interpret the text and instead leave much of the meaning for their audience to interpret.
The technical aspects of the production are outstanding. There is a short film directed by John DesRoches that illustrates Kafka’s culminating parable of the door splendidly. David Crittenden’s costumes are fabulous. The lighting, provided by Paul Hudson, is attractive and evocative. The original music composed by Rench is a lulling trip-hop fantasy in and of itself. Finally, David Szlasa’s set is an innovatively practical design in which set pieces lift right out of the stage.
The production values for this remarkable piece of theatre are equal to its insights into our current society. You don’t have to know Kafka’s
novel to enjoy the show, but you will want to bring your appreciation for high art.
The Synaesthetic Theater's version of Kafka's "Trial of K" has clearly never met a trick it didn't poach. Live-broadcasting digital video cameras, a spooky author character who slinks around the edges of his creation, and a dozen queasily sexual dance numbers all blend to make some nonsensical theater soup.