The Metamorphosis (4 stars)

The Metamorphosis

credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

Vanishing Point believe in bugs in their ingenious take on the Kafka allegory

Marrying Vanishing Point's more playful, absurdist sensibilities to their darker side, creator and director Matthew Lenton draws yet more nuances out of Kafka's story of sickness and alienation. Here, Gregor isn't simply portrayed in tacky prosthetics as a giant insect, but two superb actors – Sam Stopford and Nico Guerzoni – play man and young man respectively, with fluttering hands in place of wings. It more than pays off, reinforcing ideas around youth, experience and the problems of othering.

Robert Jack brings a sense of twitching menace and humour as Gregor's boss, and Alana Jackson's stoical Greta is subtle, trying to hold her brother together as the cracks in the family dynamics widen. This is especially true of one of the most uncomfortable dinner scenes since David Lynch's Eraserhead.

There's a lot to unpack in this neon nightmare: the danger of viewing outsiders with suspicion; elitism and, of course, the spread of disease.

The whole piece, with gorgeous uncanny design by Kenneth MacLeod and lighting by Simon Wilkinson, feels like an impenetrable fever dream within a fever dream, where endless tableaux fall away to reveal yet more. A screen splits the action in two as Gregor scrabbles to survive; while his family are exploited wholesale. It's beautiful, rather perverse, and troubling theatre for our troubled times.

Tron Theatre, until Sat 21 Mar, and touring.

The Metamorphosis

Franz Kafka's iconic novella about a man's transformation into a giant insect is brought to life on stage in this international co-production, directed by Vanishing Point's Matthew Lenton.

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