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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 19, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 16
The Trial will arrest your attention
Arts & Entertainment
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The Trial will arrest your attention

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

THE TRIAL
NEW CENTURY THEATRE COMPANY
Through April 28


Wait here. Listen to audio instructions. Go here. Stand there, with your back to the wall. Move into this slot. Follow me. Sit here. Now watch this example of what might happen to you if you step out of line.

Those who wish to attend New Century Theatre Company's production of Franz Kafka's The Trial run a gauntlet of instructions designed to set the tone for a society so controlled that no one can step outside the lines without consequences. Seated in tiered seating around a small floor-level staging area, we're introduced to Exhibit A: one Joseph K (Darragh Kennan), who awakens one morning to find himself under arrest for a crime no one will explain.

In fact, the two men who arrest him (Michael Patten and Alex Samuels) don't produce any 'papers' or identifying agency emblems; the interrogator (MJ Sieber) doesn't say who he is interrogating for; and no one tells Joseph what he's done or how to fix it. The metaphor for a secretive government or a dictatorship is clear and unmistakable.

A STORY FOR OUR TIME
This classy production, helmed by uber-capable director John Langs, includes a whip-smart cast headed by Kennan, with a scenery-chewing assist by Amy Thone as an attorney who knows the system by knowing who to talk to outside of it. The adaptation by Kenneth Albers is crisp and even throws in a contemporary reference here and there. It feels like a very complete translation of the novel.

It also feels very current, since we know there are many governments around the world who repress their citizenry - and one can apply this mysterious lack of charges to those trapped in our own country's Guantanamo prison as well. So, although Kafka wrote the novel in 1914-15, it will remain a contemporary story until we no longer have oppressive governments.

Strong technical support surrounds this unique production, with quixotic lighting choices by Geoff Korf (at one point, Tonya Andrews' landlady character wears flashlights in her hairdo), eerie sound design by Rob Witmer, a Parthenon-like amphitheater effect in the set design by Jennifer Zeyl, and sexy 1950s-style costuming by Kim Newton.

COMIC RELIEF
There are moments of humor here, and a terrific ensemble including a trio (Sara Mountjoy-Pepka, Greta Wilson, Sydney Andrews) of bank employees in automated chorus, Hannah Mootz as a mysterious and sexually charged assistant, David Klein as a similarly besieged 'criminal,' and a super-charged one-scene appearance by Alexandra Tavares as a sculptor of busts. You're likely to enjoy Thone's creative use of a scooter, too.

NCTC is presenting this play at the INScape Building (815 Seattle Blvd. S.), which used to be the INS building and has been remade into small offices and art spaces for painters, sculptors, videographers, and the Satori Group, a small theatrical company whose space NCTC is using.

Highly recommended! It's already selling out, and with only 69 seats, tickets are going quickly. Stand by, if you have to. For more information, go to www.wearenctc.org.

Discuss your opinions with sgncritic@gmail.com or go to www.facebook.com/SeattleTheaterWriters.

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