Archive for December, 2010

Kafka’s Metamorphosis at the (Brooklyn Academy of Music) BAM Harvey

December 2, 2010

A young man falls ill with a debilitating illness. Unaware of the gravity of his situation he struggles to, but can no longer work. He loses his job and soon loses the respect of the family with whom he shares a home. This is Kafka’s Metamorphosis, a chilling piece of theatre, which speaks to us from the onset of a chilling time, published in 1915, and as witnessed by the text, written before the onset of the first World War.

Metamorphosis, performed December 1 – 5th at the (Brooklyn Academy of Music) BAM Harvey is an ingenious adaptation of the work by David Farr and Gisli Orn Gardarsson for the Vesturport Theatre of Iceland. In this production Mr. Gardarsson’s role as Gregor Samsa, the unfortunate soul who’s fate it is to transform overnight into a large insect, is riveting. Mr. Gardarsson a trained Olympic gymnast hangs from the fixtures of a distorted room, one turned on its side, climbing the walls, or hiding under the bed. Gregor the elder son of this Czec household, is attended to in his affliction for a time, by his sister Greta, who’s violin playing he often requests, but no longer receives. At one point Greta makes clear that because Gregor role as bread winner for the family is no longer tenable, he can not expect his privileges as a family member to continue. Soon even the scraps of food she once offered him are denied, his room is stripped bare of the fixtures of a normal life by his mother, and he is brutally attacked by his father. Soon he is left to die in the darkness of his ravaged room. Kafka’s play is a world stripped of human caring, a time when love no longer plays a role. The grave outline of this distorted world is characterized in Gregor’s own distorted reality, and in the foreshadowing statements that arise in the text. For example a statement by a visitor to the household, Herr Fischer that soon “the vermin of society will be removed” harkens the rise of Totalitarian terror. Kafka draws the thin line that separates us from total isolation, and those we love. It is also the line that defines the limits of sanity and reason. In a time when many are in fear of losing their jobs and with that their roles in a society, this production is a chilling check on reality.

The brilliant performances by Mr. Gardarsson, Nina Dogg Filippusdottir who plays Greta, Ingvar E. Sigurdsson who plays the father Hermann Samsa, Kelly Hunter playing his mother Lucy, and Jonathan McGuinness who stars in two visiting roles, are accompanied by the haunting music of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis both veterans of the band the Bad Seeds.

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