Socialist Worker

In the penal colony

by Jack Farmer
Issue No. 2261

This production by Palestinian theatre company ShiberHur dramatises Franz Kafka’s chilling short story.

Three men meet in the desert. One is a visitor from the homeland, the other two an officer and his prisoner. Beside them is a sinister-looking device.

The device “inscribes” sentences onto people’s bodies with needles. It is now virtually abandoned, its upkeep neglected.

The officer appeals to the visitor to help him protect the perfection of this gruesome form of punishment.

This play is a solid adaptation of one of the most disturbing works of literature ever written.

Performed in Arabic with subtitles, you can’t ignore the parallels with Israel’s occupation of Palestine—a “penal colony” as horrifying as the one Kafka imagined.

In the penal colony is on at the Young Vic in London until 24 July

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Tue 19 Jul 2011, 17:25 BST
Issue No. 2261
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