“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a giant insect.” So begins Franz Kafka’s famous novella The Metamorphosis, adapted into a symbolic production by British playwright, actor, and director Steven Berkoff. Honoring Kafka’s original seminal work, Berkoff dramatizes the dehumanization of an identity built on labor. Gregor Samsa, a young man with his whole future ahead of him, is a traveling salesman. He is stuck working for a cruel and demanding clerk in order to pay off his father’s debt as well as support his parents and younger sister Greta. Gregor has ambitions for the future--such as sending Greta to a conservatory to play violin--but all hopes are dashed when he transfigures into a massive insect.
The Samsa family must adjust to Gregor’s new state, and they approach him in different ways: His mother believes that he will always be her son; his father is disgusted and repulsed by the sounds Gregor makes; Greta is devoted to feeding him and cleaning his room. As time goes on, the family loses hope that Gregor will ever return to his normal state. But Gregor can hear and understand everything they say, wracked with guilt and loss. In Berkoff’s adaptation, Gregor is always visible to the audience through the scaffolding that represents the Samsa house--as the family muses about their future, Gregor’s deterioration and hopelessness is consistently on display. Through stylized movement and staging, Berkoff’s Metamorphosis honors Kafka’s original work in a compelling production of The Theatre of the Impossible.
Metamorphosis guide sections