And that reason is Mr. Howard Rosenstein.
Anyone familiar with Kafka’s work knows he’s renowned for his mystical transformations and uncanny style of externalizing the disorienting and complex thoughts that run through a character’s mind. After attending the play Kakfa’s Ape at Infinithéâtre, I can wholeheartedly declare that I was a spectator to the Kafka-esque experience.
Written by Kafka and adapted by director Guy Sprung, Kafka’s Ape is a play that centralizes on a primate’s transformation in the homosapien world. Howard Rosenstein stars as Mr. Redpeter, an ape held captive and imprisoned on the gold coast, whose only means of escape is to repress his primordial nature and become a conforming member of the peace industry, a.k.a. “the entrepreneurial world of mercenary soldiers”.
In true Kafka-esque style, Rosenstein delves into an outward stream of consciousness and by doing so, explores themes of alienation, psychological disillusionment and confinement surrounding his conflicting identities. Through frequent bouts of lamentation and passionate outcries for freedom, Rosenstein gives a stellar performance, depicting the struggles of a fellow primate trying to fit into the norms of a “human” (pronounced throughout as “U- MAN”) society. His struggles are displayed through the conflicting nature of retaining some of his ape– like qualities while expressing some outward “humanistic” ones, as well such as perfecting the art of smoking a cigar and indulging in alcoholic vices (which he does impressively well). A stark contrast is displayed with his costar Alexandra Montagnese, who stars as “Mrs Redpeter”, his wife, whose sporadic ape-like gestures add an element of humour to the play.
The highlight of this character-driven play was without a doubt Rosenstein’s performance. His body language and passionate recounting of his transition from an ape to a hard drinking member of a military society was poignant to watch. However, the discourse was dense and detailed, which made it occasionally hard to follow.
For people who aren’t familiar with Kafka’s style, Rosenstein’s lengthy monologues can be pretty daunting and feel like a one-man show. Otherwise, if you’re up for being a
spectator to the idiosyncrasies of an ape/human’s lamentations and recounting of his transformation performed by the talented Rosenstein, then give Kafka’s Ape a try.