The fantastic Young Pleasance return to Edinburgh Fringe for their 25th year, the company that gives young people from across the country the chance to experience the Fringe, celebrate this milestone with a modern adaptation of Kafka’s The Trial.
Written by Joanna Billington and Tim Norton, our Josef K is a university student suddenly arrested on his 21st birthday. Like Kafka’s version the nature of the crime is never revealed, the cause of the arrest seemingly random.
But this adaptation blurs the lines between reality and the dreamworld. For we discover that Josef K was part of a medical trial, and having consumed alcohol things have gone wrong. His university ‘friends’ who seem to barely know him at all, wait patiently for news as the inept medical students try to figure out what to do next.
It’s an extremely clever re-working of the original novel, and thoroughly explores the challenges faced by young people in the modern age. The use of live video and references to the way people are judged, subtly highlights the influence social media can have on today’s youth.
While there are some central characters, all giving polished performances, Young Pleasance works very well as an ensemble company. The cast of over 30 youngsters are all given ample opportunity to share the stage, and there are clearly some future stars amongst this year’s cohort.
Something else that Young Pleasance does particularly well is in the staging, and The Trial is no different. The relatively simple set is brought to life by the cast who often use physical theatre to create the various scenes required to bring Josef K’s nightmare to life. At one point, mobile phone lights are used to create a truly chilling scene, that perfectly captures the torment of Josef K’s mind.
Young Pleasance have been bringing us tremendous theatre for the last quarter of a century, and The Trial, a stunning and frightening commentary on today’s world, continues the tradition. Here’s to another twenty five years of the incredible Young Pleasance.