Josephine K and the Algorithms – Peacock (Abbey Theatre) – Review
Duration: 50 minutes
Production Images by Ros Kavanagh
Part of the Dublin Theatre Festival
Runs until October 21st
Josephine K wakes one morning to find a man in her apartment. He arrived without an invite and has some strange news for her. She has been charged with an unspecified crime. At first she doesn’t believe him. It’s her birthday and she assumes this is some sort of joke. Did ‘Fun Karen’ at work put him up to it? Slowly she stars to realise that it is true and her life is about to change.
This is a new play written by Stacey Gregg which is unsurprisingly based on the Trial by Kafka. The production is billed as a ‘contemporary riff’ on the classic. While the basic premise has been kept the same, much else has changed. The main protagonist has been altered from Josef to Josephine K, and it is set in modern-day, with all the social media implications of our times.
There are two actors in the cast with Orla Fitzgerald playing Josephine K and Carl Kennedy playing the various other characters (as well as doubling up as the Sound Designer). With a duration of under an hour, this is a much reduced version, with many of the finer points removed.
Despite the warning on the Abbey website, this is not a standing performance. You enter the Peacock from a different door at the start of the production and have a short walk at that time before taking your seat! The performance is in the round with seating on all four sides and a raised platform at the centre of the theatre. There are also some nice touches with Neon signs and other effects around the theatre.
Stacey Gregg is definitely a playwright on the rise and her work is always innovative. This production fears the information we freely give away via our web browsers, whether it is our internet history or the books we bought on Amazon. Are we right to quickly click OK to the 12 pages of terms and conditions on Facebook or Twitter and what will these companies do with this information? It is quite a different slant on the original work, but is interesting in its own right. Don’t go to the theatre expecting a faithful update of the novel!
The play felt a little too short to really get to grips with the breadth of the subject it broached. There are many good ideas that you wish it explored more fully. If the work was expanded at some point they could have something quite special on their hands. Having said that, it is enjoyable throughout and lead actress Orla Fitzgerald does a fine job with her part as the bewildered protagonist. This is quite an original production and director Caitríona McLaughlin has gone to some lengths to keep the audience on their toes, from the set design to the various Audio Visual tricks on display. It is a playful and inventive production of this new script.
Stacey Gregg: Writer
Caitríona McLaughlin: Director
Orla Fitzgerald: Josephine K
Carl Kennedy: Algorithm / Sound Designer
Kate Moylan: Set and Costume Designer
John Crudden: Lighting Designer
Evan Flynn: AV Designer