Despite the promise of its title, there’s not much in Alan Bennett’s “Kafka’s Dick” that would unsettle a pensioners’ matinee audience in the suburbs.
The play, being performed this weekend by the Phnom Penh Players, is a mildly humorous drawing room comedy that takes a stab at celebrity cults—the scavengers after the dirty secrets of the dead and famous.
Sydney (Peter Buckley), a plodding insurance salesman, leads a second life as an amateur literary critic. He is struggling to write an essay on author Franz Kafka for an industry journal (cutely named “Small Print”) when the dead Czech appears.
The play revolves around an attempt to blackmail Kafka (Vaughan Lovelock) with some information that should have remained private. But as the writer soon learns, everything about him has long been common knowledge.
“Your private parts have always been public property,” Sydney’s wife, Linda (Poppy Garner), consoles him.
But Kafka’s dick isn’t so much a fleshy thing as an emblem of the curiosity of readers.
The lust for new angles on old stories drives people to distort the lives of their idols, Bennett argues.
Despite the script’s weaknesses, the Phnom Penh Players’ unexpectedly polished production offers an evening of lively, provocative theater.
Proceeds go to support Cambodian arts. The show runs tonight through Sunday at 7:30 at the Russian Cultural Center at the corner of Norodom and Street 222. Tickets are $10 for foreigners and $5 for Cambodians.