Fringe Box



Review: Metamorphosis – Yvonne Arnaud Mill Studio

Published on: 21 May, 2017
Updated on: 23 May, 2017

By Alice Fowler

How would you transform into a beetle? And how would your family react if you did?? This was the challenge facing one of the actors in Metamorphosis at Yvonne Arnaud’s Mill Studio this week by theatre company Theatrical Niche Ltd.

It is a play all very well to read; but how to put on stage?

Four actors make up this small and dynamic company; one of whom, Simon Gleave, was tasked with the beetle role.

He accomplished it through a series of bodily contortions, limbs waving, feet flexing, elbows wrapped around his legs, all suggesting the agony of a man trapped inside the body of a dung beetle.

From Gleave, we heard Gregor’s thoughts and feelings. When his parents and sister encountered him, Gregor was represented by a large beetle puppet, controlled by Gleave, which scuttled hopelessly towards his family, making them shriek in terror.

This was a noisy, high energy production of a story by 20th century German-language novelist Frank Kafka, adapted by playwright and actor Steven Berkoff. Adam Courting and Venetia Twigg (also the producer) played Gregor’s parents: his father outraged by the insect in their midst, his mother more empathetic but powerless to help her son.

Maia Kirkman-Richards convinced as Gregor’s sister Greta, who brings food to the starving Gregor but ultimately fails him too. Kirkman-Richards designed and built the beetle puppet: particularly affecting in its final scene, as the weakened, wounded creature finally keels over onto its back.

One quibble might be that the beetle – with an apparent smile spread across its face – seemed too benign for a bug that provokes such revulsion.

Gregor is a commercial traveller who has had to get up at 4am and leave the house at 5am to commute to work, where his efforts are undervalued. His family has taken him for granted too, relying on his salary to support them while Mr Samsa senior, claiming he is too ill to work, lolls at home.

Even Gregor’s sister Greta, still a schoolgirl, has exploited her brother, relying on him to finance her violin lessons so she can study at the Conservatorium. Kafka’s message about the outsider in society takes on contemporary resonances too: the plight of the homeless, for example, and of migrants and refugees.

Theatrical Niche Ltd ended their Metamorphosis tour to an appreciative, sell-out audience on Friday (May 19, 2017). Look out for their next production: a new adaptation of Lady Windermere’s Fan by Oscar Wilde.

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Responses to Review: Metamorphosis – Yvonne Arnaud Mill Studio

  1. Gordon Bridger Reply

    May 24, 2017 at 9:27 am

    Excellent and interesting review. Now that the Surrey Advertiser has reduced its review coverage and Margaret Burgess has retired The Guildford Dragon NEWS has a valuable role to fill.

    If I had seen this review I would have gone. Mill theatre plays are a bit of a gamble so early reviews are valuable.

    Press tickets are not normally available for Mill productions so, unfortunately, the timing of any review will be dictated by the reviewer’s preference for which performance they attend, at their own expense.

    Your appreciation of our reviews though is much appreciated. Thank you. I am proud of our Stage and Screen Dragon section. It has developed in a way that it now covers a significant section of the town’s entertainment offering. All credit is due to our volunteer team of reviewers.

    Of course, there is still a large number of productions that we are unable to review but as our resources hopefully increase so will our coverage. Ed

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