for the frozen sea


written by emma spurgin hussey

directed by christopher william hill

designed by rory wilton

music by dominic sewell

Copyright Rory WiltonCopyright Eric BerryCopyright Eric Berry

Copyright Eric BerryCopyright Eric BerryCopyright Eric BerryCopyright Eric Berry

Copyright Eric BerryCopyright Eric BerryCopyright Eric BerryCopyright Eric BerryCopyright Eric Berry


Axe for the Frozen Sea toured in 2002 and again in 2003 and has proven to be one of Bedlam's most popular productions to date. Inspired by the life and work of Czech writer Franz Kafka, Emma Spurgin Hussey wrote what many regard as one of the best plays to be seen in the south west for many years.


The play is loosely based on an overnight train journey Franz Kafka took between Prague and Berlin, where he intended to propose to his sweetheart Felice Bauer. Unfortunately Kafka finds himself locked in a carriage with two people who seem to know more about him than he knows about himself. His mysterious fellow travellers take him on a shocking and hilarious journey through his past, present and future; immersing him in the world of his own fiction, interrogating him and presenting him with some painful home truths. Ultimately Kafka is forced to choose between a life of writing or a life of marriage and normality. (Kafka fans will know which direction he decided to choose.) As Kafka makes his choice, the awful truth about his interrogators' identity becomes clear.


Rory Wilton - Co-Artistic Director




A play by Emma Spurgin Hussey

Performed by Bedlam Theatre of Cornwall

Directed by Christopher William Hill


Cornish indigenous theatre comes of age with a real piece of professional writing and performing for grown ups. Theatre in Cornwall is rich, full of fun, talent and entertainment but here at last shining out from a sea of burlesque comes Emma Spurgin Hussey's 'Axe for the Frozen Sea'. This play proves to be a "metamorphosis", Emma Spurgin Hussey's intellectual, powerful writing is by turn clever; funny, shocking and moving. She explores Franz Kafka's life, work and motivation in this vigorous and intense piece of drama. The action takes place on board a train travelling from Prague to Berlin just before the outbreak of the First World War. Kafka is travelling to see a woman with whom he has contemplated marriage, he is joined in the carriage by two mysterious fellow passengers who seem to put him on trial. By clever use of Kafka's own work Emma turns the tables. He can no longer hide behind his work, his fears of the totalitarian state, dysfunctional family, social collapse or sexual anxiety - we find Kafka to be a man accused by life.


The actors, Emma Spurgin Hussey, Rory Wilton and TJ Holmes, form an exciting triumvirate, acting with precision and great emotional power. TJ Holmes' Kafka is a tour de force; he captures Kafka's intense intelligence and vulnerability masterfully and with panache. Rory Wilton's encompassing stage presence is essential in a play where he takes on a plethora of characters, ranging from Kafka's gauche father to a jealous lover punishing his mistress with whip in hand. His performance adds a tangible strength and cohesion. Emma Spurgin Hussey is strong, funny and ironic. Her unique interpretation adds an edge of danger and a feeling of repressed sexuality to the production. The intelligent humour running throughout adds counterbalance to the piece. The director, Christopher William Hill, is also an accomplished playwright whose work is frequently broadcast on radio and who is at present Playwright in Residence at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth. The company has been lucky to acquire his services and his expertise is very evident in this well rounded production. Christopher lives and writes in Cornwall and promotes Cornish theatre whenever his varied career allows. Even if you are not a Kafka fan you will still enjoy this exhilarating piece of quality theatre right on your doorstep.


Angela Day, The West Briton

Copyright Eric BerryCopyright Eric BerryCopyright Eric Berry

Poster design by Dave Mynne




Franz Kafka - TJ Holmes

The Woman - Emma Spurgin Hussey

The Man - Rory Wilton


Stage Manager - Sam Wilton



... a book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. - FRANZ KAFKA


Phone: 01872 272695