Adapted by Steve Berkoff from the novella by Franz Kafka. Directed by Adam Broinowski. Designed by Impogen Keen. Sound design by Kimmo Vennonen. Lighting by Andrew Meadows Street Two. The Street Theatre. August 16 – 31. Bookings 62472133
Reviewed by Peter Wilkins
|Christopher Samuel Carroll as Mr. Samsa. Stefanie Lekkas as Grete. Ruth Pieloor|
as Mrs. Samsa amd Dylan Van Den Berg as Gregor Samsa in Metamorphosis
“When you wake” Gregor Samsa’s mother says to the disgusting creature that he has become after a night of uneasy dreams, “you’ll see that this is only a dream.” But Kafka’s disturbing tale of the commercial traveller who turns into an hideous insect, is no dream. It is rather a nightmare of the psyche and Adam Broinowki’s production offers a dark and fearful insight into the terrifying consequence of sudden change. Gregor (Dylan Van Den Berg ) lives with his father and mother and younger sister, Grete. His world is turned upside down when he loses is job and finds himself cast into the abyss of isolation from the outside world and alienation from his own family. Confined to a back room of the house and cared for by Grete initially, the insect grows into a monstrous, puking creature. The spectre of change casts a pall across the lives of the family. The father (Christopher Samuel Carroll), appalled at his son’s loss of work and status is forced to return to work and takes it out on the symbol of his own inadequacy. The mother (Ruth Pieloor) clings desperately to the hope of restitution while Grete (Stefanie Lekkas ) succumbs to revulsion and urges her brother’s eventual death. Her dream of learning violin at the Conservatorium is shattered when Gregor, who has promised to assist her, loses his job. Change invades a family manacled by dysfunction and powerless to extricate themselves from unforeseen circumstances. Even the ironic sound of Otis Reddy’s What a Beautiful World or Grete’s xylophone playing of Somewhere Over the Rainbow cannot absolve their futile predicament. They are all trapped in the nightmarish world of Kafka’s tormented psyche.
Broinowski’s vision of Kafka’s masterpiece is a triumph. In the confined intimacy of Street Two at the Street Theatre, Metamorphosis unfolds as a Grimm’s Fairy Tale of shattered dreams and broken promise. The staging is meticulous, the performances transformative and every detail is sheer delight from the makeup and costuming of pre Russian Revolution Eastern European influence to Imogen Keen’s contemporary Christian Boltanski inspired design and Picasso pre Cubist masks. Broinowski and his cast and creatives, Keen, sound designer Kimmo Vennonen and lighting designer Andrew Meadows, plunge us into a world of grotesque manifestation of dehumanised response to powerlessness. Characters are thrust beyond the real to the expressionistic. Each actor is the perfect physical representation of their struggle to resist the influence of unwelcome change that has intruded upon their lives. Broinowski’s actors are superb, and this production is without equal. It is at once, bewildering, challenging, confronting and intellectually puzzling and revealing.
Fear floods the stage in a series of striking physical visual images as Gregor transforms and grows into the burgeoning hideousness of the insect that possesses him. The fear is palpable in the father’s beating, Grete’s feeding of Gregor and the mother’s handling of the slime that seeps from her son’s body. There is no escape and we are memsmerized by the horror of the scenario and the magnificence of the production.
The Street Theatre’s intimate and compellingproduction of Metamorphosis is professional theatre at its best and worthy of performance on any professional stage. It is neither comfortable nor purely entertaining. It is, however intellectually stimulating, theatrically outstanding and an excellent example of its kind. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to see such a fine production of Steve Berkoff’s adaptation of Franz Kafka’s bitter allegory, Metamorphosis.