This site specific adaptation of Kafka’s The Penal Colony takes place in Trinity Buoy Wharf and journey to it from Fulham involves four modes of transport, one of which is a cable car. It certainly feels like travelling to a different world and the show carries that otherworldliness to it. The show mainly splits into two parts, first of which is filled with a group of residence, all smiling, cult like youths who greets the visitors (the audience) to the welcome party with their desire to learn about the outside world. The residence of the colony are dressed in floral 50s clothing and all of them carries an open naivety and a sinister undertone. The party began with songs, dance and some games until it is interrupted by a group of officials and take us into a basement. This part shows the working of the machine and where the story begins.
There are more performers than those in the audience and how the show is set up means the 30 or so performers mingle with the audience and the numerical imbalance is less obvious. The performers approach their roles with gusto and there is a certain rawness to it which suits the story well. The show is not always coherent and there is repetitiveness to some elements. Also, the show explores ideas such as the dystopian state, cult and authority but it doesn’t provide anything new or interesting. It is certainly an innovative way to present it but not enough to make it exciting.
This show by Fourth Monkey Theatre Company has an interesting format with committed performances from a large cast. It is occasional fun but what it has to say is somewhat lacking.