17 January – 16 February 2013
Before watching this play I was unsure and slightly anxious as to how Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis would be staged. I had visions of flapping cockroach costumes or ‘movement as an expression of dance’. How do you stage a story that revolves around a man waking up one day finding himself transformed into a giant insect?
David Farr and Gísli Örn Garðarsson’s production, back for another run at The Lyric Hammersmith (the first run was in 2006), offers a painfully tragic representation of a man who becomes an outcast from himself and his family. Gísli Örn Garðarsson faced the challenge of playing Gregor Samsa, which he met with a performance of outstanding physicality and tender helplessness. Garðarsson scuttled along the walls of the stage, hung from the ceiling and crawled down the stairs; his performance was physically brilliant. Combined with the character’s miserable confusion and lonely exile to his small room, Garðarsson created a vulnerable Gregor Samsa that moved me to tears. Similarly, Nína Dögg Filippusdóttir as his sister Greta, and Kelly Hunter and Ingvar E Sigurdsson as his parents, played a suffering family unit living with a frustrating and shameful secret they can’t understand or live with.
The split level set allowed this exile of Gregor and conflict in the family to progressively grow on stage; one scene showed Gregor pathetically scratching his bedroom door for food, whilst below his family were ignoring his cries to entertain their possible new tenant, played by Jonathan McGuiness. This adaptation is beautiful, bringing out the heartbreakingly sad core of Franz Kafka’s original story; accompanied not just by a great cast, but by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’ haunting music and Börkur Jónsson’s diverse stage design. The production is a must see before its run finishes on the extended date of the 16th of February.
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