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Directed by Paul Nelson
Inspired by Franz Kafka's renowned story and adapted for stage by Stephen Berkoff - the parable of Gregor Samsa, a humble, industrious man who, upon waking one morning, finds himself transformed into a gigantic beetlelike insect. His metamorphosis is both physical and psychological, and through his harrowing and absurdly comic journey Gregor comes to represent the quintessential outsider and alien.
Ben Mundy as Gregor Samsa
Russell Biles as Mr Samsa
Emma Torrens as Mrs Samsa
Lucy Young as Greta Samsa
Simon Meredith as Chief Clerk & Lodger
Scott McGarrick as Lodger
Kyle Miley as Lodger
AVANT-garde Expressionist theatre has never been high up on my list of favourite evenings
out, but this production, directed by Paul Nelson was certainly not one that I would have
wanted to miss.
Kafka’s story, adapted by Steven Berkoff, centres round Gregor Samsa, a young man who
seems to have taken on all financial responsibility for his entire family. His job as a
commercial traveller is also a noose around his neck and a complete breakdown becomes
That breakdown takes the form of Gregor waking one morning to discover he has been turned
into a giant dung beetle, at which point his family – bombastic, lazy father (Russell Biles),
gentle but ineffectual mother (Emma Torrens) and sister Greta (Lucy Young) – shut him out
of their lives both literally and metaphorically in order to keep up appearances, their now
reduced income supplemented by taking in a trio of lodgers (Simon Meredith who also plays
the Chief Clerk -, Kyle Miley and Scott McGarrick). There is a strong element of mime in the
way all these characters are portrayed, with their white faces and oddly painted lips
suggesting grotesque-looking clowns at whose antics we laugh while feeling strangely
All are superbly played, but without a doubt the evening belongs to 17 year old Ben Mundy,
an actor par excellence, as Gregor. His physical agility as he uses the cage-like structure
representing his bedroom to hang upside-down from the ceiling or scuttle under the bed,
always with his limbs contorted in beetle-like fashion, is graceful and precise, while the way
he masticates his food or whirrs his limbs in panic, his eyes forever darting around, is simply
brilliant. Vocally he is superb too, whether as the normal young man explaining his plans for
the family or the terrified outcast whose roars of panic are frightening in their intensity.
Metamorphosis will be performed at Avonbourne School next Thursday evening, November
25th, and I really do urge you to go along and see this outstanding production.
A life transformed - the tragic tale of Gregor Samsa, travelling salesman come giant bedbug.
Like any work by the Prague born writer, Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis is enigmatic and strikingly surreal, but as brought out by this zestful local theatre group with surefooted performances all round, it also proves to be brilliantly, if darkly, comic.
Seventeen year old Ben Mundy is compelling as the unfortunate Gregor, worn out as the household's sole bread winner, when finally something snaps, and overnight he's grown an insect's legs and body. His parents (Russell Biles and Emma Torrens) and sister (Lucy Young) are horrified - and even his company's fearsome Chief Clerk/absentee chaser (Simon Meredith ) does a runner. Promptly locked in his room, Gregor starts, literally, to climb the walls and emit hideous yelps. Taking in an hilarious odd bunch of lodgers to cope with their drastically changed circumstances, the family's farcical efforts at the meal table to cover up the alarming noises from Gregor's room was a hoot.
Along with its humour, Metomorphosis is actually symbolic, representing the fear of anything strange which might be seen as a threat to conventional life. With Gregor's death, after their decreasing efforts to help him, his family leave their old home to start anew - closing the door and their minds on his very existence.