NEVER a writer renowned for his bawdy approach to

life and art, Praguer Franz Kafka is a changed subject

in Timothy Daly's quirky

but accomplished play by

the impressive High-Doh Theatre Company.

Set at the time of writing Metamorphosis, this dense production slips between the haunted writer's imagination and mercilessly stripping away the clutter and claustrophobia of real life and emotional chaos unleashed by the long-distance relationship with fiancee Felice.

Director Fiona Walton has built a dramatic tension between the artist's desire to write and the imposition of conducting a regular life by interspersing fantasy and reality in equal measure. In the mode of Pirandello's Six Characters In Search Of An Author, the intense Kafka's interior landscape is further besieged by three actors from the vulgar and populist Yiddish Theatre Group who inspire his surreal dreams.

At times overblown, the high pathos and hilarious facial contortions of the trio finally made for a crucial balance with the pressure cooker scenes, culled from Kafka's exterior family life. Russell Watters's Franz was a superb portrait of the artist in angst yet capable of moments of gauche farce that actually triumphed.