Hyperdrama: The Trial

Belt Up’s production of The Trial, an interpretation of Kafka’s novella, lies in the same vein as Sleep No More, the immersive drama of which Mark Bernstein recently raved.

Reviewing The Trial for The Yorker, Miranda Crowhurst writes:

Blind, I felt a hand clutch mine. I was tugged forward into the dark. Fingers brushed up my leg, a voice whispered and breath blustered across my neck. I was surrounded.
Finally, the blindfold was yanked down. I saw shapes, a figure caught by wires, twitching, his hands suspended. I looked to the man next to me. His face was glistening, and I brought a hand to my own damp forehead. “What have I done?” I thought. But this was no Bacchanalian orgy; this was The Trial.

Lyn Gardner in The Guardian reviewed the same production, part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The Trial has many flaws – it is messy, frenetic, a little in love with its own virtuosity, and the white-faced actors and physical work looks a trifle dated. But who cares, because it is also exhilarating, ambitious and manipulates sound, space and the audience with real verve.
It doesn't so much inhabit the venue as haunt it, as if what you are witnessing is a terrifying vision conjured from your own warped imagination. Even the way you are moved around the playing area makes it feel as if you are on a labyrinthine journey from which there is no escape. It doesn't all work, but there are moments of real potency. As you race for the door, you must step over the prone body of Josef K, lying in the darkness with his hand outstretched towards the light.

Ed Siegel wrote in The Boston Globe that

I loathe audience participation. The purpose, most of the time, seems to be to humiliate, not engage, the spectator.

But he found the Sleep No More compelling.

It’s been a tough year in the arts for the area. The Rose Art Museum fading, the North Shore Music Theatre closing, other organizations and troupes struggling. We needed this. Boston has never seen anything quite like Sleep No More before. Neither has any North American city, New York included. The streets of Brookline seemed alive to new possibilities; so did the world of theater.
To paraphrase Rodgers and Hart, we’re wild again, beguiled again . . . bewitched, bothered, and bewildered are we.