Kafka’s Monkey at HOME, preview: Who’s the animal?

Polly Checkland Harding
Photo of Kathryn Hunter in a black bowler hat

Next up at HOME is the return of a critically-acclaimed play that looks deep into the divisions between humans and animals.

Following on from The Funfair, Artistic Director for Theatre at HOME, Walter Meierjohann, is bringing one of his past directorial triumphs to the cross-art venue’s theatre. Kafka’s Monkey, an adaptation of Franz Kafka’s story ‘A Report to an Academy’ starring the Olivier Award-winning Kathryn Hunter, premiered at the Young Vic in 2009 and was swiftly showered with praise – including five star reviews from The Times and Time Out, as well as general astonishment at Hunter’s physical transformation to become the ape-man at the heart of the play.

An adaptation of a Franz Kafka short story, starring the Olivier Award-winning Kathryn Hunter

Kafka’s Monkey tells the story of a monkey imprisoned by sailors who realises that his only possible escape is to become more like the ironically bestial men who have trapped him. Hunter, then, plays a monkey playing a man, in a layered physical tightrope between human and animal physique that required up to three hours a day training in animal movement exercises. One of the founding members of Complicite, a theatre company that puts a particular emphasis on the performer’s body, Hunter was described as living ‘this strange tale with every cell of her being’ by Le Monde. Don’t miss the return of a play that delves deep into themes of identity and self-alienation, with one of the UK’s best actresses at its helm. It sold out first time around…

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