Metamorphosis review – playful twist on Kafka for the Zoom era | Theater
A Days before the first lockdown, Glasgow’s Vanishing Point opened – and quickly closed – an adaptation of Metamorphosis. With its themes of confinement, isolation and fear of the unknown, it couldn’t have been more prescient.
It would be unreasonable to expect Cardiff’s Hijinx to also be ahead of the curve with this version of Franz Kafka’s story – and if anything, his Zoom-based antics seem more like 2020. But, in his view of communication breakdown, atomization and an indifferent bureaucracy, he has a similar understanding of the haunting power of tale.
Not that “haunting” is the word you would use to describe Ben Pettitt-Wade’s production. Streamed live with optional audience interaction, it is primarily playful and entertaining. He also has a healthy irreverence for realism. The actors appear with bad wigs and fake beards, a guru offers questionable spiritual advice from a tub, and Gregor Samsa, the downtrodden worker who turns into a bug, is played by someone new every time.
It’s a good laugh, but there is also a goal behind it. Featured as part of Summerhall’s Edinburgh fringe program, this makeover repeatedly asks us to put ourselves in Gregor’s shoes. Haven’t we all, like him, been made to feel left out when technology doesn’t allow us to connect? Haven’t we all suffered from unstable wifi connections which are the equivalent, in our digital world, of an unstable body? What if we woke up transformed like Gregor, what would we do? (We are receiving an online survey to complete it.)
The clash of comedy and terror – one minute a fun series of auditions for key roles, the next the wavering reflection of a changing man – reminds us of the delicate balance between order and chaos.