Metamorphosis: A Story of Bizarreness

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Metamorphosis is a theatrical production based on a novella of the same name written by Franz Kafka. It tells a bizarre story which was about a salesman who was transformed into a huge insect and his struggles to adjust to the new conditions. The production was directed by Steven Berkoff and was captured live at the Parco Theatre in Tokyo. I watched this with English subtitles on the Digital Theatre Plus.

The title of the production, including the director and the year of production
A screenshot of the production

Written by: Yushan Guo

Metamorphosis has an interesting story with realistic meanings but was presented in a way with lots of dramaticism and bizarreness. I have never read any work of Franz Kafka myself, but I felt that this was a successful adaptation (based on the meaning of the word “Kafkaesque”). What impressed me the most of this production was the acting. I think the acting had some influences from Expressionism, such as their dramatic make-up, body movements, and their exaggerated tones. All of them were excellent in creating the general bizarre atmosphere.

In contrast to The Container which things were made to be natural and realistic, the designing elements of Metamorphosis attempted to make it surreal and dramatic. The stage incorporated a minimalist design, with a considerable amount of emptiness and open spaces in the spatial arrangement. A few stool chairs and a large mental frame located in the center of the stage constituted the whole set.

The monologue of Gregor after his transformation

Among the elements of design, my favorite part was the sound design. There were certainly lots of creativity in the sound design. For example, during Gregor’s monologue or plot that showed the conflicts within the family, a synthesizer (I guessed so) was played as the background music to create a sense of uneasiness, similar to the ones that were commonly used in horror films. Besides, I also loved the hissing sound for every movement of Gregor. The sound bore some realistic features but also heightened the overall bizarre atmosphere.

The cast and creative team of this production

Compared with The Container that I watched last time, watching the production through mediation seemed to have a greater impact on me. After all, there are much more surreal and dramatic elements in this production than The Container, thus making it harder to focus on what was going on in the first few minutes. However, once again, the subtitles helped a lot more this time since I wouldn’t be able to understand a thing without them.

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