Right Brain Project at Trap Door Theatre. By Franz Kafka. Adapted by David Fishelson and Aaron Leichter from a dramatization by Max Brod. Dir. Nathan Robbel. With ensemble cast.
The Trap Door Theatre, located at the end of a long gangway between two street-facing buildings and entered by passing through a restaurant’s back hallway, has always felt a bit clandestine, like its name might be particularly apt: a secret space where you might find hidden treasure. And that’s exactly what you can find there at the moment—Right Brain’s The Castle is a small fortune.
In Kafka’s story, a land surveyor named K. arrives in a village believing he’s been summoned to work by the castle that overlooks the village. The villagers, who have great regard for the castle even though none of them seems to know what happens there, view him with great suspicion; the innkeeper tells him he needs a permit to stay there, though no one knows how such a permit might be obtained. This is only the first of the frustrations K. will encounter in his futile quest to gain entry to the castle.
A story where nothing happens, and happens repeatedly, might not sound like edge-of-your-seat theater, but Robbel’s vivid staging is one of the most inventive and exhilarating things we’ve seen onstage in ages. K.’s struggle to make sense of the seemingly arbitrary rules and mores of the village and bust through suffocating bureaucracy is brought to life in golly-gee-whiz fashion by an outstanding ensemble that pulls double duty creating David Marcotte’s live percussive sound design. Who knew a cerebral portrait of alienation and xenophobia could be so damn thrilling?—Kris Vire