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Kafka’s Monkey at the Young Vic

Marion Marples

From the moment she enters stage right, backwards, Kathryn Hunter mesmerises the audience in the Maria studio at the Young Vic.

Kathryn Hunter
Kathryn Hunter (Photographer: Keith Pattison)

The audience instantly becomes 'the esteemed members of the Academy', being addressed by a world famous Chaplinesque entertainer, who was a monkey. In this report, we learn how the monkey 'observes calmly' the world of humans and indeed apes their movements and motions, figuring that this is 'the way out' as opposed to freedom.

Lively facial expressions and Hunter's extraordinary litheness and apelike body bring humour. The 'esteemed members' are deftly brought into the action with a handshake, finding fleas in a lady's hair, bananas and rum.

But in the end the monkey is repelled by 'the smell of humanity / that clings to me'. But declares it was all worthwhile.

However, there is not time for smugness – the whooping calls of the audience at the end (on Press Night anyway) suggest that we are not as far as we think along our evolutionary course.

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