Kafka’s Ape

Kafkas Ape adelaide fringe 2020★★★★★

Adelaide Fringe. Holden Street Theatres. 26 Feb 2020


Among existential questions to ponder: how does it feel in the skin of another? Franz Kafka dwelt on this unknowable in The Metamorphosis when man became insect and then stepped up to the hypothetical of beast becoming man. He wrote this contemplation as an address to the scientific community from an ape who had made the transition - and not by choice.


It’s a gruelling and heart-rending story brought into the Holden Street Fringe program by South African actor, Tony B. Miyambo, in a piece adapted and directed by Phala O. Phala.

This work has been collecting acclaim and awards wherever it has been and the story is not going to change here. It is a breathtaking virtuoso piece of theatre, exhausting to watch.


Miyambo, in loose, haphazardly ill-fitting clothes, embodies the ape, Red Peter, with impeccable physicality, from the simian lope to the awkward biped elevations as the hapless creature takes to the human lectern. Miyambo is the ape man, snorting and straining against the confines of his predicament. His transition is caused by his capture and imprisonment, cruelly confined in a cage on a Europe-bound ship. Miyambo’s expressions of his agony and despair sear through the audience, raw and terrible. He explains, in his hoarsely gutteral voice, that he seeks not to emulate man in order to be like man but as the only option he can see to escape incarceration. 


The audience is left both dumbfounded and in awe at the end of this hour of theatre. It has been a mighty trip into a hideous hypothetical. It has been a display of masterful acting, It has been a graphic lesson in humanity and an unforgettable experience.


Samela Harris


When: 26 Feb to 15 Mar

Where: Holden Street Theatres

Bookings: adelaidefringe.com.au