The Trial – Steven Berkoff

Playing Up Theatre Company


Tucked away in The Rondo this week is one of the strongest local drama groups always providing their loyal audience base with plays that cover a range of styles and authors, delivering a varied and dynamic programme throughout the year.

Playing Up Theatre Company under the direction of Darian Nelson present this Berkoff classic, the tale of Joseph K who is arrested on his birthday without warning; there is no apparent crime and no one knows what he is charged with. However as time passes Joseph K begins to assume he has to be guilty of something as why else would he be arrested.


Based on the novel by Kafka, the root of the piece is guilt, real and imagined and the consequences of being afraid. The way we are controlled by bureaucracy and red tape of unseen forces; how unsavoury lawyers prey on the vulnerable with lengthy and improbable results trapping them inside a web of dishonesty and inefficiency.

This is a strong production, the piece has many challenges. The multi role playing is intense and successful, giving a true flavour of Berkoff and his use of the Greek style chorus; also clearly pointing out the relevance of the themes that pervade our lives.

There are moments that stick in the mind Sophie Brooks is outstanding in her ability to morph seamlessly across roles. The scenario in the art gallery between Darian Nelson and, on this occasion, Ian McGlynn is beautifully pitched and provides some light relief.

The small cast pull together with style and ease, the commitment to the story telling and nature of Berkoff’s work is clear and provides a thought provoking and enjoyable night out. Tickets are available and the show runs until Saturday.



Petra Schofield

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