Metamorphosis at the Lyric Theatre
Back due to popular demand, theatre group Vesturport returned to The Lyric in Hammersmith to perform their adaptation of the famous Kafka novel, Metamorphosis. After a four-year world tour, it’s a welcome return for this now world-renowned production.
As the curtain comes up each character is introduced individually: the authoritative father, the proud but weak mother and the little daughter Greta. This is a family who thrive on routine – something the actors portray perfectly. Even the smallest step out of line, such as their son not waking up in time for work, seems to disrupt this family’s ordinary life. So when Gregor Samsa wakes up to find he is a human-sized beetle, the whole household descends into chaos. Gregor, is played by Gisli Örn Gardarsson, who is also the director of the piece. The way he moves and talks, as well as the way the actors react towards him, completely sells us the illusion that he has become a creature. Even without make-up or costume he is not seen as human. There is a subtle humour throughout the play, in a way that portrays the ridiculous severity of the Samsas’ situation.
The set is breath-taking: stage designer Borkur Jonsson has created a split-level stage that adds depth to the story, splitting the absurd from the ordinary and visualising how the two should not be combined. The design is a playground for Gardarsson as, using his physical strength alone, he climbs around his ceiling-eye-view bedroom, keeping the audience gripped on the edge of their seats as he literally hangs from the ceiling. But the star of the show is Greta, played by Nina Dogg Filippusdottir . As her parents desperately try to carry on with their lives as if nothing has happened, we see Greta grow as a person. Filippusdottir plays a confused little girl who grows more horrifying as the actual creature gets weaker. She makes the transition between the two so fluently that it is not obvious until she viscously lashes out at the end. This is one of the predominant themes of David Farr’s adaptation – the concept of the internal monster against the external one, and all the actors portray this incredibly well.
The reason for the demand for Metamorphosis to return to its original home is clear. With an unforgettable musical score from Nick Cave, it is a mesmerising performance from start to finish. A stunningly flawless production.