Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Franz Kafka's modern classic Metamorphosis is showing at the Lyric theatre in Hammersmith until Sat 28th October.

The bizarre tale of a man who wakes up to find himself turned into a giant spider and his family's response to this comes alive beautifully on stage. Set to an original, haunting soundtrack, the 2 storey stage allows the audience to simultaneously experience the changing reactions of the family from fear and disbelief to transient kindness followed by negligence and downright ruthlessness , alongside the increasing isolation and suffering of the transformed man.

I was struck by the parallel situation of various people with chronic diseases such as cancers but also mental illness, which is heavily stigmatised because it is so poorly understood from both the clinical and public perspectives. I found the sense of betrayal by the sister was particularly poignant, in contrast to the denial and indifference exhibited by his parents.

With the exception of a few humourous interludes (I think designed to take the edge off the raw emotions felt by the audience), the play stays faithful to the story. Incredibly powerful - well worth seeing.


Daniel Goldberg said...

Kafka is my favorite author of all-time, and I was overjoyed to read the Metamorphosis in my Literature & Medicine class. There have been several medical schools in the U.S. that have made the story one of the required readings for an elective class in medical humanism/literature & medicine.

I will note that as well as the story works as an account of (particularly mental) illness, the analogy ought not be pushed too far. Kafka wrote the story around 1909-1911, and he did not become seriously ill until approximately a decade later.

Thus, I think the analogy works elegantly as just that -- an analogy, and ought not be regarded as a pathography (not suggesting you were doing so, only that that is a concern to watch out for, IMO).

Anonymous said...

i saw the production yesterday.
it was amazing.

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