Metamorphosis*** (Lyric Hammersmith, 12 February 2013)

Posted: February 12, 2013 in Theatre

photo-108Described as a “comedy of terror”, this adaptation of Franz Kafka’s surrealist novel first opened here in 2006, so its return indicates that it has gained a reputation and/or a loyal audience; it was something of a surprise to find a near-full house for Kafka in West London on a cold Tuesday evening in February. It begins with a man emerging one morning having, for no stated reason,  turned into some kind of insect; his family recoil in disgust and reject him. The single set is on two levels, a downstairs living room and the upstairs room, cleverly designed to alter perspectives, where the man/insect becomes imprisoned. Playing him Gisli Om Garoarsson displays impressive gravity-defying agility and provides many of the striking visual images that are threaded through the entire evening. The music by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis also adds much to the prevailing mood of weirdness. However, if the production is at its best when it is a visual piece underscored by music, it is at its very worst when the characters are speaking; their dialogue is uninteresting and repetitive being delivered in an irritating, stylised manner. None of Kafka’s antiauthoritarian messages would have been lost if this had been performed as a mime. Indeed, this is a production that would have spoken much louder if it had not used words.

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