The Process by Mark Ravenhill, freely adapted from Franz Kafka's "The Trial"

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The Process by Mark Ravenhill, freely adapted from Franz Kafka's "The Trial." Dir. Polly Thomas. Perf. Sam Troughton, Caroline Catz, Joe Armstrong. BBC Radio 3, 10 May 2015. BBCiPlayer

"The Trial" is one of those texts that assumes enduring significance, irrespective of the period or the context in which it is performed. The story is a familiar one: Joseph K. (Sam Troughton) is accused of something that he neither understands nor can find out. In his attempts to discover more, he gradually endures both social and physical degradation, the victim of a series of authority-figures whose authority seems inexplicable. It is a classic modernist text depicting human beings as victims of mechanized, impersonal societies in which human relationships count for little and "rational" explanations - the product of Enlightenment thought - have absolutely no significance.

Mark Ravenhill updates the text to contemporary culture, where Joseph K., is renamed Joseph Kay, who becomes the victim of a management culture in which process counts for everything and explanations do not matter. Through this strategy Ravenhill makes some telling observations about the ways in which companies are constructed, prioritizing management theory over human relations and reducing individuals to mere cogs in the desire for efficiency (or should it be "productivity")?

In Polly Thomas's production the story was transformed into a macabre epic, a hellish version of the tales told in "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey." The only difference is that whereas the Homeric texts inscribe some form of learning process in which the protagonists overcome several obstacles and gain self-knowledge as a result, in "The Process" Joseph Kay ends up becoming so confused that he is eventually deprived not only of his "reason" - that quality separating human beings from animals - but also of any other traits that might denote his individuality. Eventually he is left grasping at emotional straws, but nothing, it seems, can arrest his descent.

This was an uncomfortable production, with sound-effects vividly depicting a world in which torture was accepted as a way of life, and where management-speak replaced the art of communication. A chilling vision of the future.