City Paper is not for tourists
Caos on F
Wednesday, July 16th at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, July 19th at 9:30 p.m. Friday, July 25th at 9:45 p.m. Sunday, July 27th at noon
They Say: An ape, Red Peter, evolves to behave like a human and presents the vile details of his captivity to a scientific academy. Come explore life’s meaning, free will and animal rights in this wild tale by the existential master Kafka.
Marshall’s Take: Franz Kafka is too often memorialized only in off-the-cuff jokes about man-sized cockroaches. The adjective “Kafkaesque” is frequently used where “weird” would do just fine. Report to an Academy comes as a relief: Here, Kafka lives.
Robert McNamara and director/adapter Gabriele Jakobi share a passion for Kafka. McNamara has adapted Kafka’s works multiple times. In the role of the advanced ape Red Peter, McNamara keeps the audience entranced; every word is rich with the character’s unique perspective. The play could have gone for half again as long and still keep the audience in his grip, which is no small feat for a high-concept, one-man show.
The production uses music and light changes to punctuate McNamara’s monologue. As long as McNamara was allowed to continue on with the show, these technical flourishes helped season the meat. But Red Peter was frequently wrenched from his growing intimacy with the audience for odd dance segments, diminishing the physical power of his performance. When the music abruptly stopped, the physicality would rush back in and seem exaggerated. If McNamara were a lesser actor, the variety these musical interludes offer might come as a relief. As things are, they’re unnecessary. Report to an Academy is at its best when the music stops and Kafka comes through.
See it if: You want to learn more about Kafka from a team that makes him come alive.
Skip it if: You’d prefer a bigger, longer, louder literary adaptation.