Kafka's Ape

by Phala Ookeditse Phala
M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2023
(organised and curated by TNS)
Esplanade Theatre Studio, Singapore

An adaptation of Franz Kafka's A Letter to the Academy, this acclaimed solo performance by South African actor Tony Bonani Miyambo, making its Asian premiere as part of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2023, unfolds in less than an hour but leaves one utterly rapt. 

An ape called Red Peter is shot and captured. In order to free himself, he learns to imitate those around him, to become a master of their ways. Deep down inside though, he has absolutely no desire to become human. 

The production is animated by a virtuoso performance by Miyambo, whose grunts and guttural sighs are deftly punctuated with wry humour. In a delightful moment of audience interaction, he sanitises his hands before sidling up to an audience member and giving their foot a good shake. 

Director and adaptor Phala Ookeditse Phala has crafted a taut and timeless version of the famous short story that powerfully comments on hypocrisy and otherness through a post-apartheid lens, one which reminds us that our skin is not our truth and to break down the barriers that we humans inevitably create between one another. Even a hundred years after it was written, Kafka's message rings true.

The Crystalwords score: 3/5


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