Adapted from Kafka’s short story of the same name, REPORT TO AN ACADEMY stars Robert McNamara as an intelligent ape retelling his forced evolution from primate to human after its capture in West Africa. An evolution that should mean new found humanity for the creature but instead forces it to adapt to mankind’s cruelty and mimic it as to not perish from their abuse.
For a swift 60 minutes – though feeling closer to 45 – McNamara monkeys around as he reenacts the steps of its transformation. He often plays for laughs, without ever reaching the true ferocity nor heartbreak of a great primate deprived of its innate freedom. As the monologue progresses, his pantomimesque physicality grows more focused and less performative, offering a few evocative glimpses of great ape behavior – the backfoot balance, the over-rounded vowels or the huffing and puffing of uncontrollable excitement. His lines delivery is sadly equally distracting. A Mid-Atlantic over-enunciation paired with strange stresses and sudden bursts of unjustified anger grate on the ear.
Overall, this production by adaptor/director Gabriele Jakob is kept to a (primitive) minimum. The set stays true to its pub theatre essence, with only a few pieces of furniture scattered around the room for the performer to perch himself on. As for costume, McNamara’s oversized suit, cane and hat attire resembles what can more or less be described as The Tramp meets Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense.
This production of REPORT felt like watching an old James Bond movie. You can see great potential for entertainment in it – yet between the old-fashioned acting delivery and the lack of modern production value, your present brain just goes back into sleep mode.
Report To An Academy plays at the Old Red Lion Theatre Pub till 30th July 2022
Reviewer: Klervi Gavet
Reviewed: 8th July 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★