THE METAMORPHOSIS BY KAFKA
nytheatre.com review by Matthew Freeman
For those of you unfamiliar
with the classic novel, Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis (not to be
confused with Ovid’s on Broadway) begins as our protagonist Gregor Samsa
awakens to find that he has transformed into a large "vermin" overnight.
His state alienates him from his family and all of those who live
"outside his bedroom." Exquisite misery ensues in this, Kafka’s most
August 15, 2002
In the Black Moon Theatre Company’s stage version anything happening outside of the bedroom is shown above the stage on black-and-white film. Several actors from the film appear in the real space, while Gregor never enters the false film world. It’s a tough balance to maintain, and although it doesn’t entirely succeed, it is mostly effective and beautiful.
Director Rene Migliaccio has a very powerful aural and visual sensibility. His lead, Dario Tangelson, reflects this brilliantly. With his nearly silent performance, often mouthing dialogue played in distortion over speakers, Mr. Tangelson is emotionally rich, intense and specific. The effect of his work is nearly hypnotic, as is Migliaccio’s use of the Collective Unconscious space.
While the style works well on stage, the film is problematic. The film acting is very broad, sometimes intentionally campy. The effect of this may not be intentional: it never allows the audience to invest emotionally in a situation that is already impossible. I’m sure part of my response is that, as an American, I’ve come to expect verisimilitude in cinema, so that theatrically large acting appears comic on screen. Regardless of my proclivities towards naturalism on film, though, if film is used to physically alienate the audience (a true "fourth wall"), there is little need for the acting to be so broad. In a piece so inherently abstract, why abstract it even further?
The film, which is the weakest part of the show, is also front and center most of the time, which can become a bit frustrating. Nevertheless, Black Moon’s uneven production highlights a director with a clear love of the theatrical and nearly academic approach to his art: truly a rare find.