Monkey is the business
PUBLISHED: 11:02 26 March 2009 | UPDATED: 17:26 16 August 2010
IS it a compliment or an insult to say an actress bares a remarkable resemblance to a male ape? writes Marina Soteriou. But as the actress is the brilliant Kathryn Hunter I will take my chances and only guess that this was achieved though sheer talent an
IS it a compliment or an insult to say an actress bares a remarkable resemblance to a male ape? writes Marina Soteriou.
But as the actress is the brilliant Kathryn Hunter I will take my chances and only guess that this was achieved though sheer talent and not bad genes.
Kafka's Monkey, an adaptation of Kafka's short story called A Report to an Academy is a speech delivered by an ape who has learned to be human.
In his "speech to esteemed members of the academy" the beast tells of his capture and how he learned to drink smoke and live in the human world.
Slowly upon entering "the world of men" he learned to shred any ape-like behaviour and now wants to blow off the fingers of any "of those ten thousand hacks" that type he hasn't.
The text is dry, moving and funny. But what Hunter brings to this is a staggering physical performance which morphs back and forth from human to primate.
The two token bananas on stage are not needed. The audience can easily see her body revert to back to an ape when she starts jogging her bad memory back to her capture on the Gold Coast.
At the beginning of the 50-minute piece he declares: "I could not have achieved all that I've achieved had I stubbornly clung to my origins."
But as the ape, who now performs daily on stage, begins to relive his capture and his early life in captivity the allure of the human world soon seems superficial.
We learn that the only reason the ape imitated humans was because he needed "a way out".
But as he admits he cannot stand to be round humans for long, neither can he look at apes in the same way again.
His existence is neither here not there. He has learned the rules of European society but that does not bring him freedom and yet he can never go back.
* The play continues at the Young Vic in The Cut, Waterloo until April 9. Tickets are £17.50, £10 for those under 26 and students, and £15 for over 60s and unwaged. They can be bought by calling the box office on 0207 922 2922.