Part of Soho Playhouse's Fringe Encore Series: Adapted from a letter Kafka wrote to his dad, this solo drama is a blistering dissection of domestic authority, and a visit with one of the architects of the modern psyche. More…
At the age of 36, Franz Kafka was still living at home, a petty bureaucrat, a failed artist, a timid Jewish son. Ruling and ruining his life was his overbearing father, Hermann. What to do? Kafka wrote a 50-page letter to his dad in which he reveals deep connections between his life and his fiction.
"Combining heartfelt recitations with physical re-enactments and surreal segments that create a distinctly Kafkaesque mood, the performance is part revelatory reminiscences, part self-help therapy session, and part exorcism...The changes in the actor’s voice and demeanor are impeccable, as he fully inhabits the antithetical characters...A powerful examination of familial dysfunction and the unremitting effects it can have...Another world-class selection." Full Review
"Nashman seems to inhabit any other number of personas as well: the Jewish scholar and/or Klezmer dancer, the authority figure, the shrinking, uncertain human being who feels he's a failure at everything. Nashman's tour de force performance has him crouching in a cage like a wounded animal or standing on top of it in triumph--not to mention assuming every conceivable position in between." Full Review
"With both brilliant actor and director, such daunting material naturally lends itself to a one-man show. Nashman seamlessly embodies both the timid, intellectual son and the overbearing, authoritative bully of a father...The experience of 'Kafka and Son' is so intense that you find yourself hanging onto every word, and every new way director Mark Cassidy has devised for the scenes to play out...Nashman and Cassidy create powerful, haunting images with each new lamentation from the letter." Full Review
"Actor Alon Nashman handles both roles – son and father – firmly, creating distinct personalities. His performance is mesmerizing and compelling...The performer jumps between the two with verve and menace...It is a brave production bringing to life the mental state and journey of an author...Nashman gives a brave performance. This treatise gives insight and new light of Kafka’s life and work. It is a compelling, well-done, engaging production worth seeking out." Full Review
for a previous production “A masterpiece…This performance navigates Kafka’s journey to try and quantify this fear, and the results are stunning…Nashman is outstanding in his work, able to work the room to such an extent that the audience knows something wonderful is about to unfold before the play even kicks off…Nashman manages to speak to every audience member as if directly, and be present in a world of his own all at once. His performance is to be marveled at: immersive, compelling and first class.” Full Review
for a previous production "It’s an intimate, horrifying and at times hilariously biting extrapolation on a father-son relationship fueled by narcissism, fear, sarcasm and one-upmanship, on the part of the father, and exacerbated by the son’s low self-esteem, physical puniness and inability to fight back. It’s a horror story told with a fierce sense of intimacy that is both riveting and disturbing. Nashman is an unbelievably fine performer...'Kafka and Son' is a defining, uncompromising piece of brilliance." Full Review
for a previous production “Nashman uses a series of voices to articulate the brusque and overbearing nature of Hermann Kafka compared to the gentler nervousness of Franz and in his forthright timidity we see a great range of talent…A fragmented yet flowing narrative, often shocking, and depressingly understandable. Yet the few moments of humor, and genuine affection within the pleadings and tirades, bring out the humanity of this staggeringly well-wrought production.” Full Review
for a previous production "If this letter, written by Kafka to his father in 1919, were read out by a motionless man on a propless stage it would be powerful enough. Performed by Alon Nashman, it is simply breathtaking...The piece is staggeringly insightful. Ideas about gratitude, guilt, power and disobedience feel fresh and contemporary. Nashman articulates the knot inside Kafka with such intensity that it becomes a visual thing." Full Review
for a previous production "Alon Nashman here allows us a dramatic insight into what the personal life was like for Franz Kafka...The father figure is presented as fierce, overwhelming but also having his weaknesses, his desires, and his hopes for his son. Alon Nashman manages to let us see him as a complex human being...This is a piece of acting of real intensity, with humor and with pathos...It is full of piercing insights and ideas, and is extremely well worth catching." Full Review
for a previous production "At the first exchange between Kafka and son, the performance took on a striking new tone. Alon Nashman was transformed from the sickly, emotional Franz into the powerful, dominant Hermann bringing life to the imagined conversation...All props on the stage were used with precision and enormous impact...'Kafka and Son' is an intense study of the human condition and its limitations and deep connections." Full Review
for a previous production “Throughout the performance Nashman plays the role of Kafka and also his father. The performer jumps between the two with verve and menace…The evocative set design combines perfectly with the lighting design and the anxiety that Kafka expresses is heightened to a new level. During 'Kafka and Son’ we see the inspiration behind some of Kafka’s novels. The relationship he had with his father shaped his work and Nashman has presented this complex relationship with style and menace." Full Review
for a previous production “Perfectly staged…The show is structured excellently and Nashman holds the audience in the palm of his hand, however moments of poetic dance and movement may leave some bemused...'Kafka and Son' is not an easy watch, however, it is intense, intimate, moving and unmissable if you’re a fan of the author’s work. The show gives an insight into his writing that perhaps may not have been considered, while being performed powerfully well." Full Review
for a previous production “Sole actor Alon Nashman’s mannered interpretation feels perfectly pitched – you can readily believe this neurotic, fragile man created such hapless put-upons as Gregor Samsa and Josef K. It’ll polarize, I think – an hour and change of grandiloquent prose is a tough ask for any audience, and you may struggle to stay engaged throughout the lengthier digressions – but as a portrait of a toxic, destructive relationship, it is thorough and exacting.” Full Review
for a previous production “It's a great performance, undoubtedly. But there's nothing here to hold the audience's attention, no journey for them to go on, no jeopardy, no risk, no reward. The meticulous research behind it is evident, Nashman's Kafka is rich and detailed, and Cassidy's production is thoroughly polished, but ‘Kafka and Son’ has one crippling, fundamental flaw: it's dramatically dry as a bone. It's resolutely, unyieldingly, purgatorially dull.” Full Review
See it if You enjoy wonderful wording and excellent acting. Very relevant.
Don't see it if You cannot sit and listen and follow— if you like mindless and predictable Broadway musical plays.
See it if you enjoy dramatic performances, want to be entertained. this show is excellent and should be seen by as many people as possible.
Don't see it if you do not like drama
See it if you want to see a stellar solo performance in an intelligent, simple production. No Kafka knowledge needed.
Don't see it if you have no interest in dysfunctional family dynamics; solo shows bore you; you need a linear plot.
See it if Powerful, compelling solo tour de force showing the descent into madness. Stark, symbolic staging. Best to know something about Kafka.
Don't see it if Looking for laffs? Want something feel-good? You've come to the wrong place.
See it if This dark and emotional piece should resonate with anyone who has had or has witnessed a difficult father/son relationship.
Don't see it if The painful clash of fathers and sons is more than you can bear.
See it if you are a Kafka fan or are interested in dysfunctional family relationships, specifically, father & son, especially with famous fathers.
Don't see it if you do not like one-man shows, do not enjoy unusual staging or prefer light and happy family stories.
See it if You want to see a fine performance and an imaginative staging of a great literary work. The final image is haunting and perfectly realized.
Don't see it if You have little affinity for one person shows or new, dramatic renditions of classic work.
See it if you're in the mood for a dark and twisted family dynamic, a compelling and often unreliable narrator, a meandering narrative, & a spare set.
Don't see it if you want a more traditional play with multiple roles, external rather than internal conflict, and a clear plot.
See it if you are curious about the mind of Kafka (1883-1924), and fascinated by psychological ramifications of the child-parent relationship
Don't see it if you're looking for an entertaining story line or don't care for intense psychological exploration, the unguarded display of a tortured soul
See it if you’re up for a solid performance and super writing on the lifelong effects a dismissive parent can have on a person. Very sobering show.
Don't see it if you’re not going to side with Kafka (duh); you can’t watch a weak, terrified, vulnerable man without blaming him for his own diffidence.
See it if You are very familiar with Kafka. You enjoy the letter-reading play format. You want a terrific performance & striking staging.
Don't see it if You have little-no familiarity w/Kafka. This is the advanced class: there's an assumed context for the letter & it won't be explained.
See it if you are interested in learning about Kafka and his family background. If you like experimental theater or one man shows.
Don't see it if you don't want to have to concentrate too much. Despite this being just about 1 hour, I felt my attention lag at times. It felt longer.
See it if You have a burning desire to see one mans version of what Kafka’s childhood was like.
Don't see it if You feel like you’ve got a good idea of what Kafka’s childhood was like from what you already know about him. Yeah, it’s just like that.
See it if you can't get enough of dysfunctional relationships onstage, esp a son recounting how his emotionally distant father damaged him.
Don't see it if you're tired of dysfunctional father-son plays, esp when we're given no reason to care abt the main character other than we know it's Kafka
See it if you are interested in some of the timeless aspects of father-son relationships and have the patience for well-delivered 70 minute monologues
Don't see it if you have particular interest in Kafka beyond the Letter to His Father or have a hard time maintaining focus through long monologue
See it if You're intrigued by your father or son. It is black feathers scattered and rescattered; fragmented memories longing to find their light.
Don't see it if you prefer more conventional theatre or have no imagination!
See it if you are interested in the impact of overbearing domestic relationships and how much it can drive one to distraction.
Don't see it if you think Kafka is overrated
Also Alon Nashman is unforgettable
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