Scene 5.

(DARKNESS except for a single small candle, burning at rear centre of stage.  The flame of the candle illuminates nothing.  CHURCH MUSIC begins,  Albinoni, “Adagio for strings and organ”.  MUSIC continues through the slow, sonorous bars of the opening.  MUSIC fades slowly to silence.  Near-DARKNESS for some moments.  Abruptly an ELECTRIC TORCH, with a powerful but narrow beam, flicks on and sweeps over the audience, then the floor of the stage.  The TORCH casts a dim glow over the man holding it who is walking up and down, peering about.  At one point he pauses in his exploration to flick the beam over his own face, and we see it is JOSEPH K.)

K:  (shines the TORCH on himself, gestures round)  THIS.... is the Cathedral.  Just before I set out to come here I had a phonecall from that hotblooded woman, Leni.

(A PHONE RINGS somewhere.  He peers about and picks up a red telephone) 

LENI:  (phone voice, over SPEAKER)  K.  How are you?

K:  (putting receiver to his ear)  Thank you for your concern, Leni, but unfortunately I haven’t got time to talk.  I’m on my way to the Cathedral.

LENI: (over phone) What!  The Cathedral?  Already?  They’re really driving you hard along the path to the end.

K:  Goodbye Leni.  (replaces receiver, puts down phone) I said goodbye, I put down the phone, but I could not help whispering tenderly back, even when I knew the faraway girl could no longer hear me, even after Leni’s voice had faded forever, I said (to phone:)  Yes, they’re driving me hard.

(pause.  He hangs his head in the near-darkness.  Then he stoops down to put down the phone,  picks up something else, perhaps the local listings magazine) 

K:  At the last minute, when the taxi arrived, I picked up a  magazine full of things to see and do in the town.  I thought it might interest the Italian.

(In dim light he pauses, shines his light up and down looking for the Italian)

K:  It was a miserable filthy day and the Cathedral was cold and wet when I got there.  It was also amazingly dark, though it was still only morning outside.  And I fully expected to catch my death, standing waiting outside on those cold stones for the Italian. So I came inside. (looks at digital watch)  He’s very late. 

(pause.  Abruptly a match flares L of centre behind K, and as K turns an OIL LAMP is lit.  The LAMP lights the figure near it in priestly robes, hat, dog-collar.  K and the PRIEST - played by Titorelli - look at each other a moment)

K:  (to himself)  A priest about to ascend his pulpit!  (pause) But no  sermon’s being preached this morning, the regular time for service is two in the afternoon.

(PRIEST climbs up a step, perhaps onto a chair, then another, perhaps onto a table in front of it; the light is dim, it could well be a pulpit he’s climbing into.  He stands behind a lamp which hangs from a lectern with an open book on it, above K so that K has to look up at him.  The LAMP below the PRIEST’s face gives him cadaverous eye-shadows, a deathly skull-face.)

K:  With that light in his face, I doubt if he can see me here in the dark.  Time to slip out, before he starts preaching a sermon.

(K backs off, begins to edge toward exit R, but after 3 steps he HALTS as he notices PRIEST’S head begin to turn after him, scanning slowly and blindly into the dark.  Pause. PRIEST faces K who stands frozen in the shadows)

K:  Signor Titorelli, the priest is staring at me.  I look to see what he will do next - but only out of the corner of my eye.  (long pause.  ALBINONI music, faintly)  What peace and stillness NOW, at this frozen moment inside the Cathedral!

(Pause.  Music swells a little.)

K:  But I’m not in the mood to stay.  If he’s supposed to preach a sermon to a deserted Cathedral, he can get on without me like I have to get on without him.

(he begins to tiptoe off without looking at PRIEST.  Suddenly he HALTS and holds his magazine before his face as if to protect himself)

K: This Cathedral is bordering in size upon the limits of what the human soul can bear. (starts for the exit again, seeming to try to ward off the shadows with his hands)

PRIEST: (tremendously amplified, his voice comes from all directions)  JOSEPH K!!!

(K halts abruptly without turning round.  Music stops.  Long pause.)

K:  (out of corner of mouth)  If I turn my head toward him  I’ll be acknowledging that I am the person he’s speaking to.  (cunning)  But if I DON’T turn my head toward him maybe I can still slip through the door without being caught.

(Pause.  K’s head begins to turn very slowly toward the PRIEST, who notices)

K:  I can’t help turning my head just to see what he’s up to.  (as his head finally faces PRIEST)  Damn!  He must have seen my head turning.  It’ll seem childish if I don’t turn round and face him now.  (turns round to face PRIEST fully)

(PRIEST beckons him closer)

K:  But as soon as I do that he beckons me closer.  Damn it!

(PRIEST beckons him closer, K comes closer, halts, looks up at PRIEST.  PRIEST beckons K closer still.  K now goes so close to PRIEST his head is more or less right under the PRIEST’s knees, and K is forced to crane his head back at a ridiculous angle, to look almost vertically up at PRIEST)

K:  Now I’m standing so close to the fellow I have to crane my head right back just to look in his face at all.

PRIEST:  (after pause.  Sepulchral:)  You are Joseph K?

K:  I am.

PRIEST:  You’re an Accused Man, is that right?

K:  So they tell me.

PRIEST:  In that case you’re the man I came for.  I’m the Prison Chaplain.

K:  (irritated)  O is that what you are!  Is that why you force me to look up at you, like the Archbishop of bloody Canterbury?

PRIEST:  I summoned you here so that we could have a little chat.

K:  No you didn’t.  I only came to show an Italian colleague round the Cathedral.

PRIEST:  Stick to the point.  (points)  What’s that in your hand?  Is it a Bible?

K:  (glancing at the magazine, TIME OUT, or whatever)  Not at all.  It’s a magazine that tells you about things to see and do in the town.  A Book of Life, you might say.

PRIEST:  A Book of Life?  Put it away from you.

K:  (turns and hurls magazine into audience)  There.

PRIEST:  Did you know your Case was going badly?

K:  I felt it might be.  I haven’t even been able to present my First Petition yet.

PRIEST:  You may never get beyond a lower Court.  Your guilt is taken as proved.

K:  But I’m not guilty!  If it comes to that, how can ANYONE be called guilty? (gestures round)  We are all simply human beings here, one very much like another.

PRIEST:  That’s true.  But it’s also the sort of thing a guilty man WOULD say.  (pause)  And what’s your next step?

K:  Well, I’ll try to get more help.  There are a few people I haven’t tried yet.

PRIEST:  You waste too much time looking for outside help.  Especially from the women you make love to.  Don’t you see that’s not the kind of help you need?

K:  But women seem to have great influence in the Court.  All the Advocates are chasing some young woman or other, and they tell me the Judges are randy old devils.

(PRIEST throws his arm before his face, as if to shield it, and shrinks down in his pulpit as if under a terrible burden)

K:  Are you angry with me?

(the CANDLE goes out)

K:  (looking round at the growing darkness)  It seems to be getting darker as we speak - what’s happened to the weather outside?  There’s not a glimmer of light coming through these stained-glass windows.   (pause)  Don’t be angry with me.  I didn’t mean to offend you.  Maybe you don’t know what the Court is really like....


(LAMP below PRIEST grows dimmer)

K:  (turning to invisible Titorelli)  Signor Titorelli, the Priest cried out like a man who sees another man falling to his death and can do nothing about it. (turns to stare at PRIEST.  Shyly:) Won’t you come down to my level?  You don’t have to be up there preaching me a sermon.  You could come down here and give me some friendly advice, as one man to another.  I could listen to you a lot more comfortably then.

PRIEST:  (apparently relaxing, he unhooks the lamp below his face, and, holding it in one hand, looks down at K)  I’m allowed to come down now, I had to speak to you from a height at first, otherwise I might have gotten too close to you and forgotten my duty.  But I’m off duty now.

(PRIEST turns and climbs slowly down to the ground, walks round K, gives him the lamp to hold, slips his arm through K’s, takes back the lamp)

K:  Can you spare me a little of your off-duty time?

PRIEST:  (friendly)  As much as you’re ever going to need.

K:  It’s very good of you.  (as if they are old friends, K walks up and down arm-in-arm now with PRIEST, who is holding the lamp in front of them)  You know, Priest, I feel I can trust you more than any of the others at the Court.

PRIEST:  (unhooks his arm, looks at K)  Don’t delude yourself about the Court.

K:  How am I deluding myself?

PRIEST:  In the ancient writings which form the preface to the Book of the Law there is given a parable about your  delusion.  Behold:  (he gestures L)

(SPOT lights up on FRANZ, now dressed in exactly the same suit as K but with a cloth cap on his head.  He is standing in front of an enormous figure.  The “WILLEM” actress in heavy disguise is standing on a box or something to give her enormous, appalling height.  This is all covered by a military greatcoat, so that the figure appears a giant.  The huge figure has a pointed black beard of oriental length, and holds, with its butt resting on the ground, a long ferocious-looking weapon, a pike of some sort, that looks like a cross between a spear and an axe.  This is the DOORKEEPER, who stands in front of the door, which is slightly open.  A stool in front of FRANZ.  During the following speech neither FRANZ - seen here as THE MAN FROM THE COUNTRY - nor the DOORKEEPER will actually speak; the Priest will utter their lines, as FRANZ and the DOORKEEPER only mouth them as they mime the parable.)

PRIEST:  (sonorously)  Before the Law there stands a Doorkeeper.   A Man from the Country comes to this Doorkeeper, and asks for entry into the Law.  (FRANZ mimes asking DOORKEEPER for something)  But the Doorkeeper says  that he is afraid he can’t let him in at the moment. 

    (DOORKEEPER shakes his head, mimes speech as PRIEST describes the action) 

PRIEST: The man ponders this for a while (FRANZ ponders) and then asks whether he can be allowed to enter later.  “It’s possible,” says the Doorkeeper, “but not at the moment.”  As the Door to the Law stands open as always, and the Doorkeeper leans aside on his halberd (DOORKEEPER leans on halberd) the man stoops (FRANZ leans over) to try and see through the door to what is inside.  As the Doorkeeper notices this he laughs (DOORKEEPER silently laughs at FRANZ’s peering) and says: (booming voice)  “If it entices you so much, go on and try to get in without my permission.” The Man from the Country hadn’t expected such difficulties, (FRANZ retreats a step and ponders) surely the Process of the Law should be accessible to all people, all the time, he thinks, but as he now looks a little more closely at the Doorkeeper in his fur-collared coat, at his great beak of a nose, at the long, thin, black Tartar’s beard, he decides that he’d rather wait until he gets permission to enter.  The Doorkeeper gives him a stool (DOORKEEPER points at stool) and lets him sit down to wait by the side of the Door. 

(FRANZ pulls stool over to side of Door, on DOORKEEPER’S R, sits facing audience) 

PRIEST:  There he sits for days, and years.  He makes many attempts to get in, and tires out the Doorkeeper with his requests.  (FRANZ gesturing to DOORKEEPER)  The Doorkeeper often asks him questions about his homeland, but they are only impersonal and trivial questions such as the Royal Family ask when they meet poor working people, and in the end he always says to the man again that he still can’t let him in at the moment. 

(FRANZ now begins to take out personal possessions, offer them to DOORKEEPER - wristwatch, wallet etc., and tosses them over to the DOORKEEPER who catches them deftly and puts them away in his pockets, nodding affably at FRANZ) 

PRIEST:  The Man from the Country uses up everything he owns to try and bribe the Doorkeeper, and admittedly the latter accepts everything, but always says, even as he takes it (DOORKEEPER mouths)  “I am only accepting this so that you don’t think you’ve left any stone unturned.”  (FRANZ, having nothing left to give, now begins to stare hard at the Doorkeeper, his head in his palm, his elbow on his knee.) For long years the man watches the Doorkeeper continuously.  During the early years he loudly curses his unfortunate fate (FRANZ rails silently - though not at DOORKEEPER - as DOORKEEPER laughs at him)  But as he grows older he just mumbles to himself about it all the time. (FRANZ his lips moving, looks senile) He becomes childlike, and, since in his long years of studying the Doorkeeper he has got to know by heart even the various fleas in the Doorkeeper’s fur collar, he even begs the fleas to help him to change the Doorkeeper’s mind.

    (FRANZ begs fleas in DOORKEEPER’S collar) 

PRIEST: Finally the light in his eyes grows weak, and he doesn’t know if it’s really becoming darker all around him or whether it’s just his eyes playing tricks.  But in the dark he now recognises a radiance which streams inextinguishably from the Door of the Law.  (PRIEST takes lamp off K, walks over to door, waves the LAMP around as if to shed a little light to FRANZ, who is groping forward weakly into the light)  By now he has little longer to live.  (FRANZ falls off his stool, CRAWLS feebly towards DOORKEEPER’S feet, raises himself to one knee with the last of his strength)  Before his death all of his experiences from the entire time gather themselves in his head to one question that he has not yet asked the Doorkeeper until now.  He beckons to him, as he can no longer raise his stiffening body. 

    (FRANZ beckons to DOORKEEPER, who strains to bend low) 

PRIEST: (booms as DOORKEEPER mouths)  What do you want to know now?” asks the Doorkeeper.  “You are insatiable!”  (FRANZ mouths feebly)  “After all,” says the Man, “everyone is striving for the Law.  So how is it that, after all these long years, no one else has asked to go in through the Door?”  The Doorkeeper recognises that the Man is finished, and in order to get through to the Man’s fading hearing the Doorkeeper roars at him: (DOORKEEPER cups mouth to mime roar at FRANZ)  “No one else could gain entry here because this entrance to the Law was meant for you alone.  I am now going to close it.” 

(FRANZ crumples to the floor, dies.  DOORKEEPER straightens up.  BLACKOUT L of door on FRANZ and the DOORKEEPER)

K:  So the Doorkeeper deluded the Man all along.  Is that how you are deluding me?

PRIEST:  I’ve told the parable in the words of the Scripture. Delusion isn’t mentioned.

K:  But surely it’s obvious that the Doorkeeper only gave the Man the message of his salvation when it was already too late to help him?

PRIEST:  The Doorkeeper was never asked that question before.  And he was only a Doorkeeper, who fulfils his duty by keeping the Door, not by answering questions.

K:  How on earth was he fulfilling his duty?  A Doorkeeper fulfils his duty by keeping out STRANGERS, but he’s supposed to let in the Man for whom the Door was built!

PRIEST:  Ah, now you’re trying to rewrite the story to suit yourself. 

K:  (firmly)  Look, Priest, a man ought to be able to go through the door made for him - whether he wants to be a Bank Manager, a carpenter, an artist, a writer or a priest....

PRIEST:  O come come.  We can’t have just anybody being allowed to be what they want.  The Court reserves that privilege only to Princes and other Charlies like that.  Though I grant you that they don’t achieve very much with their marvellous advantages - the inbreeding does tend to make them a bit stupid, and they seldom get very good A levels, though this doesn’t prevent them getting into Cambridge, or whatnot, of course.  They’re given every start, so that they may attain the place that is predetermined for them, ability or not.  And why not?  Why not Hooray Henries?

K:  Because it’s an unspeakably vile state of affairs.  It makes a mockery of natural justice.

PRIEST:  Life’s too short for us to be able to sort out every person’s real capabilities.  Take your example.  You chose to be a Bank Manager.  But if you had chosen instead to be an artist - or even a writer, like the man Franz, then maybe no one would have bought your paintings or understood your books no matter how good they were until after you were dead and gone and not able to benefit from the appreciation.

K:  In that case a man would be justified in burning all his work on his deathbed, so the world would not get it for nothing.

PRIEST:  (affably) Yes, that’s exactly what Franz told me he intends to do.  But he’ll either have to do it first or else ask his friend Max to do it after he dies.  And there’s a problem there, too, since after his death Franz will be in no position to make his friend Max do anything.

K:  Franz would do better to burn it all NOW and be safe - to hell with a fickle public.

PRIEST:  You say that the Doorkeeper deluded the Man.  But consider also that the Doorkeeper himself is so deluded that he can’t HELP deluding the Man in return.

K:  (holds up the LAMP, looks at the light, waves LAMP back and forth in front of his eyes pensively.  Lowers LAMP)  Look, Priest, what you’re saying is irrelevant.  Maybe all the Doorkeeper does is pass on his own delusions, but if that’s true then the Doorkeeper is so bloody stupid that he ought to be sacked.  His delusions may not do HIM any harm, but they do terrible harm to the poor Man trying to go through his own Door - trying to be an artist, bank manager, or a writer like Franz or whatever.

PRIEST:  All things pertaining to the Law, even this possibly-deluded Doorkeeper, are beyond our right to pronounce judgment on them.

K:  That would mean accepting as true every false thing the Doorkeeper says. 

PRIEST:  It isn’t necessary to accept everything the Doorkeeper says as true; it’s only necessary to accept it as necessary.

K:  That’s a pretty gloomy point of view.

PRIEST:  How so?

K:  It turns lying into the guiding principle of the Universe.

(long pause;  the PRIEST stands and looks at K without expression;  and nods)

K:  (disengages his arm)  All this talking has only served to obscure the outlines of what at first was a clear, simple story, easy enough to follow.

(the PRIEST shakes his head, as if saddened.  The pair link arms again, resume marching up and down.  After awhile K stops, releases his arm, and turns to the PRIEST, who stops politely to listen to K.  CHURCH MUSIC fades)

K:  Look, I don’t want to seem utterly dependend on you all the time, but the fact is I’m lost.  Aren’t we near the main doorway of the Cathedral now?

PRIEST:  No, we’ve come a long way from the main doorway.  Do you really want to leave so soon?

K:  Now you mention it, perhaps I ought to go back.  The only reason I came in here  was to show an Italian friend round this Cathedral.  (gestures round the theatre)

PRIEST:  You have to go back?  Well, then - off you trot.

K:  But I can never find my way alone, out of this darkness all around us! 

PRIEST:  You want to know the way?  It’s easy enough.  Go left until you bump into the Wall.  Then follow the Wall without leaving it until you come to the Door.  (he points off L, turns from K and starts to go off R)

K:  Don’t you even want to say goodbye?  You were so nice to me before, you explained so much, and now you’re turning away as if you cared nothing about me.

PRIEST:  (puzzled)  But didn’t you just say you had to leave right away?

K:  (brokenly) Yes..... but I can’t help it.

PRIEST:  Nor can I help being what I am, a Church Minister, a creature of the Court.

K:  But you said you were the Prison Chaplain....

PRIEST:  And as such I belong to the Court.  Why should I make any claims upon an Accused Man?  The Court makes no such claims.  It receives you when you come to it and lets you go when you leave.

K:  (hangs his head, give PRIEST his lamp back, avoids looking at PRIEST)  I see.  The Court giveth and the Court taketh away.

(PRIEST looks at him, then raises the LAMP and blows it out.  BLACKOUT.)