Review: Metamorphosis

Hijinx

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Summerhall Online

25/08/21

What do you have in common with a ‘monstrous verminous bug?’

Before you indignantly shriek “Nothing at all! How dare you!?” and slam whatever device you are reading this on down and storm away insulted by the question, prepare yourself for worse – you may have more in common with it than you think.

Taking Kafka’s classic story of travelling salesman, Gregor Samsa, who finds himself transformed into some form of horrifying vermin and remains trapped on his back in his room as his family and colleagues live their lives around him, Hijinx take an inventive and entertaining look at parallels between the original text and the transformation we all underwent during Covid-19 lockdowns.

From a hilarious remote audition process, in which Lindsay Foster and her ring light momentarily steal the show, and directionless break-out room rehearsals to performance, the cast present a Zoom-play within a Zoom-play. As they prepare to present this play, it becomes clear that all is not right, and life begins to mirror fiction, with unsettling messages in the chat, flickers and cuts to characters seemingly undergoing transformations, and domestic spaces unsettled.

Punctuating and framing this story within a story, is the Kaf Bar, where the cheery barman invites the audience to chat, meditate with ‘the guru,’ enjoy a drink, and respond to existential polls. This is set as a friendly space outside the action of the place, but the changes of the play soon impinge on this space too, and like in other moments, the themes of Kafka’s work bleed into the ‘normal’ settings, shedding new light on the ideas of the original text.

The direction and design of the piece makes full use of the online setting, openly acknowledging the Zoom platform (and the challenges it brings) rather than pretending that it is not there. Director, Ben Pettit-Wade uses the production’s online platform to great effect in moments such as that in which a face is constructed, Frankenstein-like, from close up images of individual features of the cast, and in which the cast commit recorded faux-pas in a Zoom breakout room during rehearsal. In streaming the work live, Hijinx have also opened up a world of interactive possibilities for the audience, which are deftly handled by Owen Pugh as the Barman.

Treading the line between surreal and bizarrely real, Metamorphosis holds a theatrical mirror up to the transformations of the past year, and through laughter leads us to ask important questions about identity, care, isolation and connection.

Metamorphosis runs live at Summerhall Online until 29th August as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s