Middle-manager Joseph K has a problem - on the evening of his 30th birthday two "volunteers" turn up instead of his sushi delivery. Not only do they tuck into his California roll - they are also there to notify him of his arrest.
An adaptation of Franz Kafka's 1925 novel The Trial, comedian Tom Basden has written a snappy and genuinely funny script. Winner of the 2007 Edinburgh Comedy (Perrier) Award for Best Comedy Newcomer as part of four-man sketch group Cowards, Basden brings frequent collaborator Tim Key along for the ride, with Key doing a solid job of bringing the variety of role he is tasked with to life.
The cast are hard working, creating a series of well-formed and discreet scenes for Joseph (thoughtfully played by Pip Carter) to navigate. Although the situations are increasingly frustrating, the titles character's world slowly slipping away from him with work, technology and even his Boot's club card points falling out of his grasp, what emerges is a lengthy musing on bureaucracy and the failings of modern-day customer service rather than the terrifying loss of control suggested by Kafka.
Carter brings a vunerability to the role, with an impressive performance which maintains a logic and naturalism in the face of the absurd. Mention should also be given to Siân Brooke who demonstrates incredible versatility. It is the constant need to be versitile which ultimately slows the piece down however, with overly-long scene changes killing the momentum of the piece. Although Chloe Lamford's blanket set serves the piece well, it is not clever enough to quickly change between the assortment of situations the story navigates.
An unfortunately unfulfilling ending tops off what is a well put together script, given a production that is not quite slick enough.