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Mark Jackson's Metamorphosis

July 7, 2011

It's amazing what great theatre artists can manage to pack into a mere 75 minutes of stage action.

Mark Jackson's tightly-wound and deeply affecting production of David Farr and Gisli Orn Gardarsson's adaptation of Kafka's Metamorphosis delivers such an experience. The show is like a mosquito: it's fast and it bites.

From the moment the play opens, with an iridescent, insect-wing-like greenish light shining subtly on Gregor Samsa's polished black shoes to the moment it ends with the dead Gregor's newly-"civilized" family striding out into a bold and shiny future, we are caught in a web of moral conundrums. Gregor's death through the neglect and horror of his family is horrific yet at the same time justifiable in terms of forging their independence. His demise leads to the self-improvement of the people he loves. This is uncomfortable.

The toxicity of the moral framework of Kafka's tale is eloquently brought out in Jackson's staging, which makes the most of The Aurora Theatre's compact deep-thrust performance space. Nina Ball's vertiginous set design with its steep rake and tiered floor, which forces Alexander Crowther's Gregor to crawl and easily fall, makes explicit the idea that it is the environment that's to blame for the problems that these characters encounter. They try their best to navigate the bumpy terrain physically and spiritually and ultimately fail.


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