Trying not to interrupt the general flow of things, Jake O’Brien catches the players of DRAM30140 rehearsing a relatively postmodern interpretation of Franz Kafka’s The Trial

In Room C213 of the Newman Building, a lady is pacing back and forth scene uttering frantically colloquial renderings of the play’s narrative. This particular theatrical adaptation of Kafka’s infamous book has come from the mind of Steven Berkoff, who took the writing under his dramatic wing in 1971.

There are “no set or props,” according to director Neil Pearson, “Berkoff would rail against what he calls the bourgeois theatre: realistic sets, so we have none.” Hence, there’s heavy stuff at work here. Pearson reveals a particular affinity the work, telling otwo that The Trial was the first play he ever directed in college: “It was the first play I ever directed, about 15 years ago when I was a student in UCC, so it was in the back of my head. Then a sort of series of coincidences after that pointed in that direction.”

With no props or real set pieces to speak of, the onus becomes heavily placed on the lighting (“Expressionist, that’s what I would be aiming for… German Expressionist”). With that in mind, a professional lighting technician handles the light and dark of the stage.

“There’s a number of different ways of looking at the play in terms of man’s guilt about existence,” Pearson says. “What we’re bringing out is a sort of resonance in contemporary Irish society as well, because K himself [the leading protagonist] works in a bank, and the importance that banks have been having in this country!”

Combining this contemporary attitude towards the original text alongside theoretical and exercise practices of Grotowski (among others), Pearson and his players – who also act as crew in this holistic production – are eager to illustrate their pride in a work they have devoted much time to. Some performers otwo meets admit to having given in excess of eight hours per week, on top of other college commitments and work.

Colm Kenny-Vaughan plays the lead role of Joseph K, and doubles as publicity manager for the play alongside Robbie Osborne. He’s apprehensive but optimistic: “Tensions are quite high at the moment because we haven’t quite finished everything yet, but we’re getting there… We’re much more comfortable as a group now, we’re much more comfortable with the text, with the ideas behind it, with the direction we’re going.”

The group atmosphere in C213 is indeed electric, and without tension, nerves or giddy excitement, it wouldn’t be seem to be the same. With such commitment and characters, The Trial is sure to be a success.

The Trial plays the Smock Alley Theatre from 17th-20th March. Tickets can be purchased in the Newman Building for €10/€12.