Dark humor and absurdism rule ‘The Castle’

The  Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium takes on Kafka with "The Castle," part of this year's Fringe Festival.  Credit: Johanna Austin@AustinArt.org
The Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium takes on Kafka with “The Castle,” part of this year’s Fringe Festival.
Credit: Johanna Austin@AustinArt.org

Tina Brock is feeling a little frustrated when she answers the phone. With set designer Anna Kiraly off teaching a workshop in Hungary, the co-founder and artistic designer of the Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium is laboriously trying to capture an ethereal, haunting atmosphere that Kiraly, a skilled painter, could far more easily conjure.

The process could prove useful to the absurdist theater company’s latest production, however. As part of this year’s Fringe Festival, the IRC is producing an adaptation of Franz Kafka’s novel “The Castle,” a bleak comedy all about frustrated desires. The novel itself was a source of frustration to its legendary author, who left it unfinished — ending mid-sentence — when he died of tuberculosis in 1924.

The story traces the futile and confounding journey of a land surveyor known only as K, who is summoned to a village by officials from an ominously looming castle for reasons he can never quite ascertain. “He keeps coming up against opposition and obstacles and a very strange world that doesn’t make sense to him,” Brock says. “The people in the world seem to understand it very well, but it has that surreal quality where you come into a situation that definitely has a structure but you don’t know what it is. K wants one simple thing, but he can’t seem to communicate what he needs from a spiritual or a language perspective, and he just continues on and falls apart psychologically and physically.”

Typical of Kafka, the novel is marked by a distinct lack of hope or comprehension of one’s fate, but also contains a remarkable amount of (admittedly dark) humor. “I find it hilarious,” says Brock, who cites influences including “Fawlty Towers,” Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil” and the Lemony Snicket books for her own approach to the material.

“There’s something really funny to me about a continued, repetitive attack on a single-minded goal. There’s something inherently funny about that to me. A lot of absurdist work can be very precious about making a large statement and sags under its own weight. But the weight is already in the play, in the writing, the style, the magnitude of issues that you’re dealing with. So it helps to have a sense of humor.”

‘The Castle’
Sept. 3-22
Second Stage at The Adrienne Theater
2030 Sansom St.
$15-$25, 215-285-0472
www.fringearts.com



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

South Korea ferry fugitive found dead with bags…

By Ju-min Park and Sohee KimSUNCHEON/INCHEON South Korea (Reuters) - South Korea's most wanted man, whose heavily decomposed body was found in an orchard last…

Local

New Yorkers are nation's unhappiest residents: Study

New Yorkers aren't a happy bunch, at least to a new study released by a nonprofit economic research group.

News

NY judge throws out lawsuit by Empire State…

A New York state judge has thrown out a lawsuit in which longtime investors in the Empire State Building claimed they were shortchanged out of hundreds of millions of dollars…

Local

Mysterious white flags appear over Brooklyn Bridge

Two white flags mysteriously appeared over the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday in place of the American flags that are a traditional fixture.

Movies

Interview: Melanie Lynskey on making it up as…

"Happy Christmas" star Melanie Lynskey talks about what it's like to be in the largely improvised films of Joe Swanberg and the subplot they didn't shoot.

Movies

From 'La Femme Nikita' to 'Lucy,' a list…

French filmmaker Luc Besson has created a cottage industry of junk cinema. Here are his many unique action heroes, including Liam Neeson and "Lucy"'s Lucy.

Movies

Review: 'Lucy,' with Scarlett Johansson, is smart, stupid…

Luc Besson's "Lucy," in which Scarlett Johansson gains increased control over her brain, is a film about smart and stupid but always enjoyable.

Television

'Pretty Little Liars' recap: Season 5, Episode 7,…

Drunk girls and ghost brownies: here’s your weekly ‘Pretty Little Liars’ recap by way of Q&A. Q: do they really not check for feet under…

NFL

David Tyree hiring has gay rights advocates angry

Former Giants Super Bowl hero David Tyree will re-join the franchise as its new director of player development.

NFL

Ben McAdoo's new offense has Giants excited to…

Even Tom Coughlin feels he has a lot to learn about offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s new offense, which makes the veteran coach very excited.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead…

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead pack

NFL

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will…

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will win Super Bowl?

Tech

Learn Braille with these gloves

U.S. scientists have designed high-tech gloves to help users understand Braille in a matter of minutes.

Home

5 New Ikea products that will change your…

We round-up the latest must-have products.

Food

Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Buttermilk French Toast

We recently spent some time chatting with restauranteur/celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his Wolfgang Puck American Grille in the Borgata in Atlantic City. Puck wanted…

Style

Go retro with your sneakers

The best of wacky new sneakers.