A short story written by Franz Kafka during World War I, ‘Metamorphosis’ has been adapted into a scintillating theatrical co- production by Iceland’s Vesturport and the United Kingdom’s Lyric Hammersmith. It has an original soundtrack by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis integrated into the 85 minute performance, which adds another layer to Kafka’s tale of alienation on one hand and the descent into inhumanity on the other.

As Gregor becomes more insect like physically, his compassion grow for others while his family - his father immediately, then his mother and finally his sister - lose theirs as they deal with the perceived monster in their midst.

Adapted and directed by David Farr and Gisli Orn Gardarsson and performed in English. The English and Icelandic cast are wonderful, while Gardarsson who plays Gregor, gives a spellbinding performance.

A travelling salesman working impossibly long hours to keep his family afloat during the long dark hours of winter in northern Europe, Gregor cracks and seemingly bursts out of his grey suit. Tall and lean, Gardarsson was a national gymnast and he scuttles over the walls and ceiling as if he was a cockroach.

The stage is split horizontally which adds to the effect: the family’s living room is below and above, linked by a steep staircase is Gregor’s bedroom, in which he gives his extraordinary performance. 

This is no insertion of acrobatics into a play for the sake of spectacle, it is integral to the production. So much so, there is no suspension of disbelief:  the man in a suit crawling up the wall is an insect.

Gardarsson wanted to extend the possibilities of the spoken word into a spatial realm and he succeeds brilliantly. In an interview with Matthew Westwood in The Australian (March 26th), he said: “Theatre is always best when you don’t have to have a lot of text, I think. It’s always better seeing and experiencing it rather than having it spoken.”

While the world has spun on its axis ever more cruelly since World War I and the Samsas could be transposed into any group that loses moral bearings, Gregor could equally represent a pawn in today’s financial crisis. In the same article Gardarsson said Gregor could be “the businessman waking up one day and his world is turned upside down.”

Theatre Royal,
March 29 to 31 at 7.30pm.
April 1 at 8pm.
April 2 at 7pm.

Illawarra Performing Arts Centre,
April 15-19.

Sydney Theatre,
April 22 to May 2.



Margaretta Pos Review courtesy of Oz baby boomers
GREGOR Samsa wakes one morning to find he has been transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. He can still think and speak but his family doesn’t understand him. As the chilling tale unfolds, Gregor becomes our conscience, while one by one, his family unites in sacrificing him out of self-interest.