Kafka & Co.
Radio Plays

I don't know much about Kafka, but his writing's very odd. "Metamorphosis" is probably his best known story, where a guy wakes up to find he's turned into a beetle, but there are other writers who have used the style: victimisation, prisoner of circumstances, wrong place at the wrong time ... anyway, here are a few radio plays which are guaranteed not to cheer you up. Take them in small doses only...

2007 The Love Contract, by Mike Bartlett, 45m
2005 The Employee, by Sebastian Baczkiewicz, 60m
2003 Seven Floors, by Dino Buzzatti
1984 Who is Sylvia? by Stephen Dunstone
1983 The metamorphosis of Sid Arkwright, 30m (loosely based on Kafka's short story)
1980 The Mortification, by Barry Bermange (new production?)
1976 No Quarter, by Barry Bermange
1964 The Mortification, by Barry Bermange
1962 No Quarter, by Barry Bermange


R4, 14 Nov 07. Emma works in a large office complex, supervised by her manager. It's only when she begins seeing Darren, one of her colleagues, after work, that she realises how closely she's being watched. She's in serious danger of breaking her contract.

The play was a well-constructed two-hander; Emma played by Claire Rushbrook and her manager, subjecting her to a series of increasingly intimidating interviews, by Ellie Haddington. Echoes of Orwell's "1984".

The producer was Claire Grove.

Update, Sep 2008: The play has been shortlisted for the Tinniswood Award.

There were shades of Kafka in SEVEN FLOORS (R4, 1415, 18 Jun 03), by Dino Buzzatti, adapted by Martin Shea, James O'Neill and Eamonn O'Neill. Giovanni is sent to hospital even though there's nothing much wrong with him, and is given a bed on the top floor. But it's not a normal hospital; the patients are housed on each storey according to the severity of their conditions. When we reach the ground floor there are no doctors, only priests, and the rumour is that if you go this low, your number is up. A series of bureuacratic blunders starts Giovanni's descent...the play starred June Whitfield as the narrator, Adrian Scarborough as the victim, and Michael Begley, Sally Bretton, Zoe Hendry and Paul Hilton as the medics. The director was Jim Poyser.

WHO IS SYLVIA?....1984
Two scientists are engrossed in their work in the laboratory, experimenting on cockroaches. It works on two levels - we hear the scientists and their mindless chatter; then there's a subtle change in the sound quality, and we are with the insects. They are aware of the horrible things which are being done to them, but can't understand why they are happening. It is truly horrific. Director: John Tydeman. More details on Stephen Dunstone page.

NO QUARTER....1962 and 1976
Play; produced by John Gibson, by Barry Bermange. "Two men, unknown to one another, ask for rooms in an hotel. A single room only is vacant. They share it.....with others." (RT) Special effects recorded by John Gibson and Roy Maynard. Incidental music composed and conducted by John Buckland. 14-Nov-1962- Peter Pratt, Felix Felton, Denys Hawthorne, Carleton Hobbs.

---Kafkaesque tale with a small group of assorted oddballs trapped, lost and disoriented in a tower block...excellent R3-type play.

By Barry Bermange. Another Kafkaesque play with "the victim" a worker of 20 years' experience in a large company, perpetually on the move from office to office, mainly downwards...superb casting - Cyril Shaps, Hugh Burden as far as I can recall. Excellent piece of radio.

Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

Above plays known to exist in VRPCC collections

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