DramaPhysical TheatreReviewSouth West

Metamorphosis – Theatre Royal Plymouth

Reviewer: Indigo Cleverley

Writer: Franz Kafka

Adaptor: Lemn Sissay OBE

Director: Scott Graham

A brand new interpretation of Franz Kafka’s novel Metamorphosis, Frantic Assembly’s new co-production opened in the Theatre Royal Plymouth this week and is a perfect blend between the well-known story of Gregor Sampsa and Frantic Assembly’s unique physical movement styles, used expertly to convey emotions, storylines and characteristics.

Most of us are familiar with the story of Metamorphosis, the tale of Gregor Sampsa who wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into a huge insect, but one thing interesting about this interpretation is that the actual metamorphosis does not occur until the end of Act 1. Surprisingly, this is a successful, albeit brave, decision as it firmly establishes the character personalities and traits but also what triggers the transformation in the first place

A team of only five theatrically and physically talented actors propel this production onto the Lyric stage, lead by Felipe Pacheco as Gregor Samsa whose raw emotions, heartbreaking voice cracks and gripping physical movements are compelling and extremely moving alongside Gregor’s sister Grete (Hannah Sinclair) whose onstage dynamic is absorbing – although the characters relationships are questionable. The parents played by Troy Glasgow and Louise Mai Newberry both exhibit precise, noteworthy monologues throughout the play – all portraying the fracturing family feuding fantastically.

‘’I am met by everyone, remembered by no one’’ Gregor Samsa admits woefully in the second act, reflecting his emotional turmoil and discontent with his monotonous lifestyle – wholly consumed by the pressures of working and providing for his family. Despite being set in the 1900s, the themes and issues prominent in the show are just as prominent in today’s society and therefore 2023 audiences are moved by this abstract presentation of the consequences of pressure, expectations and repetition.

Visually, this production is outstanding. The use of shadows and lighting (Simisola Majekodunmi) is admirable – particularly at the start of act 2 with the blackouts and movement of the ceiling light. Additionally, sound (Helen Skiera) plays a crucial role in the performance – the contrasts between ominous synth music and delicate ethereal piano tunes establish the atmosphere of the scene and the character’s emotions.

Starting the performance with the projections flickering across the stage draws in the audience from the first second, flooding the stage in a fascinating figure. Furthermore, the set design grips you from the first moment – an illuminated bedroom with basic furniture and fluid silk walls which at points sway to create an eerie dysmorphic appearance.

Frantic Assembly have gained notoriety as one of the most successful British theatre companies – this show proves why. Full to the brim with enrapturing monologues, graceful lifts and movements and vehement visuals, Metamorphosis is theatre at its best and most powerful.

Runs until 16 September 2022

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The Southwest team is under the editorship of John McRoberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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