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Franz Kafka's Love Life, Letters,and Hallucinations in Short Scenes with Live Actors 

Wednesday, Jun 11 2008
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The long title essentially sums up the plot structure of this meticulously detailed biography of the famous writer's tumultuous love life and his seemingly pained relationship with his work. Playwright and visiting UC Berkeley scholar Mae Ziglin Meidav has been crafting this material for close to 20 years; even at a long two and a half hours, it's still only a distilled version. The repetitive conceit of many of the scenes can become tedious: Kafka becomes obsessed with a woman, seduces her, then loses interest and falls back into the arms of his true love — writing. At the center of this exhaustive production that tracks Kafka from his youthful attempts to woo his wet nurse to his early death from tuberculosis is the whirlwind performance of Carson Creecy. His tour-de-force manic and childlike portrayal energetically propels the show and illuminates how many of Kafka's romantic relationships affected his fiction, but it starts to feel one-noted in the end. Meidav has done her homework, but perhaps her superb attention to detail would be better suited to one section of the writer's life and not its entirety.

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Nathaniel Eaton

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