A bright and dynamic performance of Kafka’s Metamorphosis, this is an impressive piece. Told through movement and often a chorus of voices, the classic tale is brought alive by Berkoff’s adaptation for the stage. The year twelve’s of Blenheim School do Kafka’s story justice, despite some slightly over zealous acting in places.
Gregor Samsa, a travelling salesman wakes up one morning to find that he has become a giant and most repulsive insect. This figure is played by one actor, who spends most of the performance trapped in a metal frame – which aptly represents the confinement of his room. The rest of the cast are not fixed and move fluidly from one character to the next, passing on voices or becoming a chorus. This is an interesting way of representing the alienation felt by Gregor, as well as portraying the unanimous ‘other’ that they become in response to him. They are no longer mother, father and sister but instead a cacophony of voices responding in disgust to their fellow man’s plight. As Gregor ceases to be human in their eyes, they lose humanity in their reaction to him.
Berkoff’s characteristic physicality conveys the disgust and awakens the reality of such a situation. The actors move together beautifully, reacting realistically and convincingly and giving the audience a sense of how people may very well react to a giant insectictoid monster. A skilled lead aptly portrays the poignancy of Gregor Samsa, his mannerisms spot on. The minimalist stage is effective, as it allows greater focus on the world of movement and sound created by the cast.
This is a wonderful re-telling of the story, while the approach is innovative and interesting. It definitely had the air of a school play, but I was pleasantly surprised at this emotive and engaging delivery. Freshly dressed Kafka is quite a sight to be seen.