by Franz Kafka adapted by David Farr and Gísli Örn Garðarsson.
Lyric Theatre King Street/Theatre Square Hammersmith W6 0QL To 16 February 2013.
Mon-Sat 7:30pm Mat 9 Feb 2.30pm.
Runs 1hr 25 min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 8741 6850.
Review: Francis Grin 21 January.
Kafka’s ‘Bug’ effectively brought to life.
I remember the first time I read Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis. While the idea of a man magically transforming into a giant insect didn’t exactly play on my darkest fears, the realism which Kafka injects in this transformation becomes undeniably disturbing.
David Farr and Gísli Örn Garðarsson’s production of Metamorphosis is one of the few adaptations I’ve seen which truly captures the tale’s original power. By returning to the root of its darkness, turning its fantastical events into daunting reality.
Entering the theatre, my eye first caught Börkur Jónsson’s set design which effectively captures Gregor’s displacement as an ‘insect’. The stage is divided into two storeys – the first depicting the family’s world through a conventional, level, dining room, the second depicting Gregor’s world, a slanted, dislocated bedroom. Gregor is forced to swing about this room, defying gravity and clinging onto his bed, in a world which is fast slipping away.
I was impressed by the company’s decision to express Gregor’s transformation through set design and movement, rather than any physical alterations to his person. Performer Gísli Örn Garðarsson blends a bug-like physicality with movements of shame and discomfort, as he slinks under his bed or crawls behind a pot of plants, hiding himself from the others. The audience can relate to Gregor, not as a man who transforms into a bug, but as a man who can no longer carry on in his own skin.
This production has managed to stay close to Kafka’s original tale while stretching its meaning in intriguing ways. As Gregor’s family host an amusing dinner party, Gregor sits just one storey above, starving to death. Once the primary provider for this family, he has now lost his function and hence is comfortably forgotten. As the play ends with a joyous family trip to the gardens, we wonder about the conditions of love, and what it means to lose one’s ‘use’ in any relationship.
Though hardly uplifting, this powerful production (complete with an incredible soundtrack by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis) is certainly not one to be missed.
Greta: Nína Dögg Filippusdóttir.
Gregor: Gísli Örn Garðarsson .
Lucy: Kelly Hunter.
Herr Stietl/ Herr Fischer: Jonathan McGuinness.
Herman: Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson.
Directors: David Farr, Gísli Örn Garðarsson.
Designer: Börkur Jónsson.
Music: Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.
Lighting: Björn Helgason.
Costume: Brenda Murphy.