By: Alison Silveira
The critically acclaimed adaptation of Metamorphosis by British playwright David Farr and actor/director Gisli Orn Gardarsson had its Toronto debut at the Royal Alexandra Theatre earlier this month.
Written by Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis tells the story of the young salesman and sole breadwinner for his family, Gregor Samsa (Bjorn Thors), who transforms into an insect-like creature. His parents, Lucy (Edda Arnljotsdottir) and Herman (Tom Mannion) cannot comprehend what has happened to their son. His sister Grete (Unnur Osp Stefansdottir), tries to help him with his predicament, but when Gregor's condition worsens and his existence threatens the family's place is society, she agrees with her parents that desperate times call for desperate measures.
Most impressive in this production is Farr and Gardarrson's vision for the play. A middle-class family has their world turned upside down and through bold aerial feats, Gregor is literally suspended upside down from the walls of his room and his bed. Borkur Jonsson's set design is ingenious, as he fashions Gregor's seemingly ordinary bedroom into one with hidden trampolines and a lamp for him to bounce and swing from.
Thors is beyond mesmerizing as Gregor. Not only is he superbly flexible and dexterous, but he is a first-rate actor. The subtle nuances in Thors' expressions and inflections in his voice are completely entrancing. Thors' performance is one of the most physically demanding I have ever seen in a play. The rest of the actors are quite melodramatic in their roles, which is a unique directorial choice. Every action that they make is deliberately choreographed and comes across as unnatural. Their stylistic actions do underscore the bizarre reality that they endure. The concealment of their secret is of utmost importance to the Samsa family and the desperation to which they resort to in shrouding it is intensely emotional. Watching the disintegration of the family unit is simultaneously disconcerting and compelling.
A disturbing yet poignant play, Metamorphosis provides for a theatrically transformative experience.
Starring Bjorn Thors, Unnur Osp Stefansdottir, Tom Mannion, and Edda ArnljotsdottirWritten by Franz Kafka
Adapted and directed by David Farr and Gisli Orn Gardarrson
Music by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis
Metamorphosis plays at the Royal Alexandra Theatre until March 9, 2014.
Photos of Bjorn Thors and Unnur Osp Stefansdottir by Simon Kane.