Kafka on Ice: Playfully Preposterous

Somewhere near Denver, nestled between industrial structures and warehouses and on the border of the railroad tracks, lies the Buntport Theater Company. It blends right into the scene. A usual passerby would do just that–keep on going–but if given the opportunity to look beyond the sterile and windowless walls that make its facade, one would be astounded by the great art that it houses; it is quite the surprise.

Open the doors to find friendly faces waiting to greet you, and just beyond them, snacks and (hooray!) a kegerator–for donations, of course. Being charitable never felt so good. You pass a curtain and enter the auditorium to find a stage of fake ice surrounded by seats, only a handful of rows–it is intimate setting. When looking at the “ice,” you can’t help but wonder if it is all a joke. “That can’t be ice… It looks like linoleum. What have I gotten myself into? An adult Ice Capade? About Franz Kafka? I’m pretty sure I just got punked…” You take another sip of your micro and settle into your seat, only feet from the stage, and the lights fade to black.

When the electromagnetic waves return, they are spotlighted on a man at a desk in the corner of the stage. It is Franz himself. He is writing and narrating the play you’ve stumbled into–and believe, he thinks it is as redonkulous as you do. His stories are fantastic; cut-aways are inserted in the play with Family Guy-like vigor, and yes, it is indeed on ice. Well, not ice, but a synthetic polymer on which the characters skate through the writings of Kafka. It’s absurdly entertaining: along with the people that influenced his life, a two-faced tranny makes a brief appearance, Carl the Cockroach dukes it out with Bart the Beetle, and the Yiddish theater does a jig. What better way to bring light to this dark master of existentialism than a silly show on ice? The production is modestly brilliant–a cast of only six, blading actors have just moments to change characters, but they do so with intended hilarity–it is the glue holds together their daffy drama.

Everyone has their own brand of holiday outing. We’ve all seen the ballet, and Mannheim Steamroller is anything but fresh. If you are looking for something different and affordable for your seasonal dose of arts, take the trip to the Buntport for Kafka on Ice. There are six remaining shows, the last on December 17, and tickets start at $13. Reservations may be made at Buntport.com.

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