Metamorphosis @ Anywhere Theatre Festival

Reviewed May 2013

In the Mel Brooks comedy The Producers, Max Bialystock considers METAMORPHOSIS as a contender for a Broadway flop, but realises it's 'too good'. And it is.

Opening with the jaw-dropping line "Gregor Samsa awoke one morning to find he had been transformed into a gigantic insect", we are voyeuristically plunged head-first into the living room of the Samsa family as they deal with their son's inexplicable transformation.

Adapted for the stage by Steven Berkoff, from the short story by Franz Kafka, Gregor's metamorphosis is not to be taken literally. We are given no explanation as to why he awakes as an insect, but it can be interpreted as a metaphor for mental illness/disability, and the breakdown of the family unit when confronted with something out of the norm. Gregor becomes accustomed to his new form whilst the other characters are torn between sympathy and repulsion at what the son has become.

The appearance of the new boarder (Vivien Whittle) late in Act 2 is confronting, as the tables turn and we become, instead, repulsed at the behaviour of the seemingly 'normal people' and even more sympathetic toward Gregor's plight.

Edwin Zigterman and Crystal Arons, as the head-strong parents struggling to accept their son's change, show acting experience beyond their years and Brandon Dowery (as Gregor) maintains a physicality throughout, in what is not an easy role. Brittany Ryan (as sister Greta) is the embodiment of the 'perfect offspring', a direct opposition to the supposed monstrosity in the adjacent room.

Incorporating elements of physical and absurdist theatre, pantomime and realism, the non-traditional location (a large industrial shed) only enhances the experience. Director Luke Butler has utilised the performance space to great impact, incorporating clever lighting, a violinist, and even song, to convey the desired emotion from this unusual piece.

METAMORPHOSIS raises questions which stay with you long after the show has ended. Are we, as human beings, quick to brush aside anyone different in appearance to us? It makes you take a long hard look at society and how we treat and respond to those who are unlike ourselves. Audiences will relate to aspects of the Samsa family dynamic, which slowly falls apart as they question their own morals and love.

After experiencing this 'beautifully sad, fractured, kitchen sink drama' and how it has been tackled, I'm excited to see what The Basics Project will undertake next...

METAMORPHOSIS is performed as part of Anywhere Theatre Festival and runs until Sunday 19 May at Northshore Shed, Eagle Farm

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