Metamorphosis: Salesman Turned Insect

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Metamorphosis is Steven Berkoff’s adaptation of Franz Kafka's novella, which tells the tale of a travelling salesman who is transformed into an insect. The performance took place in the Parco Theater in Tokyo and was made available through Digital Theatre Plus.

Written By: Zackarya Faci

The first thing that struck me about Metamorphosis is that it was performed in Japanese. The video was accompanied by English subtitles which undoubtedly helped me understand what was going on through the performance. This is the beauty of digital performances; we are able to enjoy works that we might not otherwise comprehend in person. The performance opened with Gregor Samsa elucidating who he was and giving background about the other characters. This is atypical from other performances, and it seemed like he will be narrating the story instead of acting in it.

Another interesting aspect of the performance was the scene design and lighting. The stage consisted of a very simple design and only three chairs on stage. The actors would also use minimal props and help tell the story with vivid body language. There were many flamboyant and bizarre movements that grabbed the attention of the audience. The movements were also highlighted and contrasted by the lighting. Actors were cast as shadows on the backdrop to make the movements more prominent; lighting was also used to turn the actors into silhouettes to focus attention on other aspects of the stage.

Costumes were also minimal and mainly black; the color choice aided in emphasizing the sorrowful narrative. One character, the lodger, wore gold, which could be tied into the theme of financial troubles.

Overall, this was definitely one of the more bizarre productions I have seen. Nevertheless, I am glad to have watched it. The actors were very talented and outgoing. From the expressive, insect-like movements, to the amount of emotion and information they were able to convey, despite speaking in a foreign language, was truly impressive. I am excited to see what other masterpieces I have been missing out on simply because of a language difference.

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