Metamorphosis shows a grotesque change for this term’s Theatre Group


This term, the Lancaster University Theatre group has decided to go against the grain and put on the play, Metamorphosi’ adapted by Steven Berkoff from Franz Kafka’s novel. One morning, the character of Gregor Samsa wakes up to find himself transformed into a bug. Living with his parents and his sister, Gregor is the only breadwinner of the family and is unashamedly exploited by his parents for his dedicated work ethic. Even after the metamorphosis has taken place, Gregor is more concerned with how he will pay the bills. Shunned by his family for his drastic change, the family take on lodgers in order to make up for the lack in financial support.

One can interpret many different messages from the play through the metaphorical representation of Gregor. However, the play’s directors, Oliver Trumble and Rachel Clutterbuck have decided to focus on the physical effects of Gregor’s transformation. Stepping away from the traditional route of simply acting this play, they have decided to incorporate aspects of dance, physical movement and puppetry in an attempt to convey the true extent of how grotesque the metamorphosis is on not only Gregor but his whole family. There are three puppeteers who manipulate the actor playing Gregor as well as a puppet itself of a bug, creating a multi-layered sense of entrapment and imprisonment. This effect is developed through the use of dramatic music and lighting, adding to the dehumanising transition.

Aside from the three puppeteers, there are eight speaking roles consisting of Gregor’s family and the lodgers. Nevertheless, they too are accentuated caricatures of a family tied up in greed to notice the pain felt by their own son. On viewing the opening scene, this is no ordinary play, it is an artistic representation of the animalistic consequence of self-centred individuals. I asked Rachel Clutterbuck if she could describe the play in three words, she came up with, ‘extraordinary, grotesque and shocking’. This play is ultimately a tragic snapshot of the failure of a family to love and communicate as they should. There is a harsh juxtaposition of comedy and darker themes. The directors are keen to emphasise the humour and light relief, provided for the most part by the lodgers, in an attempt to accentuate the darker moments so much more.

However, putting the dark scenes aside, the cast and production team have all had great fun putting this play together. The warm-up games, which on the surface just looked like an excuse for a good laugh, were actually an exercise in physical movement and special awareness. Having only ever acted before, Rachel and Oliver thought directing would make a welcome change to their time in the theatre group. They need not worry, though, their inexperience does not show. The rehearsals show a deep love and understanding of a play which tries so hard to be unlovable.

The play will be performed on the 9th and 10th March at the Gregson Centre in Lancaster. Evening performances start at 7:30 and the Wednesday matinee at 2:30. Tickets are £5 and can be purchased on the door or by contacting the production team, [email][/email].

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