Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis has been a model for the psychological struggle between father and son since its literary birth. This StageRight Production with an adaptation by E. Thomalen is a show that promises to really bug you out. Literally.
Gregor Samsa goes to work daily to bring home an income after his father's business disaster five years before. Unbeknownst to him, his father doesn't truly need the extra money, except as a way to avoid going to work. One morning, he turns into a bug (yes, just like that). He cannot work, and over time, his family goes off to work and find in their own metamorphosis that they can survive well without him. They slowly come to be revolted by the sight of their former hero. His father throws fruit at him to get him away from the table, and an apple gets lodged in his back. It becomes infected and he eventually dies. By this time, the family delights in being rid of him.
Loretta Guerra Woodruff played Mrs. Samsa with frightened concern over her son until her disgust got the best of her. The actress played her role with a mixture of soft vulnerability and matronly grace, while Peter J. Coriaty played a stubborn Mr. Samsa, who seemed never to be very fond of his son even when he was human.
Gregor Samsa was played beautifully by Kevin Whittinghill with a physical prowess mightier than any Starlight Express cast member ever had. As the ill-fated bug, the actor was in a squatting position for the entire length of the play. Although he never spoke a word, the actor displayed a remarkable rapport with the audience.
Although Jessica Greenberg was the only artist onstage who did not leave the safety of her American dialect to conquer her role, she was the possessor of the most genuine moments onstage. Her well-crafted bond to her brother was touching and real.
Director Francine L. Trevens made a marvelous choice by adding the amazing Klezmer musician David Kornhaber, who played the violin during the pivotal scenes to great effect, continuously reminding us of time and place.
Luna Turk was hilarious as the elderly cleaning lady who finds the dead Gregor at the end of the show. She found a delightful contemporary flair in the archaic dialogue.
T. Silver's costumes were classic and true to the er,a and his set design was masterfully color-coordinated. Lights and sound were intimate and telling.
The play also starred Hugh Dunnet, Brandon DeSpain, Marcalan Glassberg, Ozlem Turhal, and David Lamberton.
One interpretation of the play may be Kafka's disapproval for those who lived their precious youth for others instead of the pursuit of their own happiness. In an act of desperation, it is human nature to disable oneself, if only to survive.
Today he'd be forced to be more inventive. After all, "mysteriously" turning into a bug doesn't guarantee a day off from work in New York these days.
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Copyright 2003 Jade Esteban Estrada