Things will get Kafka-esque at Manhattan Ensemble Theatre this fall. A new English-language adaptation of Frank Kafka's unfinished masterpiece, The Castle, will inaugurate the new Off-Broadway company's first full season. The troupe opened its new Soho space last spring with a dramatization of Dostoyevsky's The Idiot.
The Castle tells the bleak, nightmarish story of a man who continually tries and fails to gain entrance to the castle where he is supposed to report for work. Like the same author's The Trial, it is a grim depiction of the individual's losing struggle for meaning and equilibrium in a world of monolithic institutions and faceless, monstrous bureaucracy.
According to MET, the stage version being employed is by Max Brod, the friend of Kafka and executor of his estate who wisely ignored the novelist's decree that his manuscripts be destroyed after his death. The dramatization, once thought to be lost, was staged by Ingmar Bergman in Sweden in 1953, and in Tel Aviv in 1976. MET claims The Castle has never been produced for the English-speaking stage until now. Petra Lammers and Aaron Leichter rendered the English translation
The Castle will run Nov. 27 to Jan. 7.
The MET 2001-02 season, which bears a distinctly European flavor, continues with the Feb. 5-March 17, 2002, presentation of The Golem by H. Leivick. David Fishelson adapted the Yiddish theatre classic from Joseph C. Landis' translation. The final selection on the roster will be Ordet, running April 15-May 26, 2002. The new adaptation of the play by Danish dramatist Kaj Munk is drawn from both Munk's original text and Carl Theodor Dreyer's 1953 screenplay. The MET space is at 55 Mercer Street in Manhattan. For information call (212) 925-1900.
—By Robert Simonson