Deeply disturbing but fascinating, this interpretation of Kafka’s famous story features an incredible central performance from Edward Watson as Gregor.

Having originally premiered at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio Theatre in 2011, this 2013 revival of Arthur Pita’s adaptation of Franz Kafka’s story enhances the theatrical quality of the story – but runs out of places to go towards the end.

It is a real shame as it is equally disturbing as it is fascinating to see how Edward Watson completely transform his body into this bug like creature, contorting it into some truly astounding shapes and positions. The way in which the dancer brings to life the characters feelings of being entrapped and frustration is exquisitely realised through Arthur Pita’s choreography.

This being said, after said transformation there is very little for the central character of Gregor to do within the rest of the piece as the focus turns increasingly to the family whose lives go on. As they increasingly neglect Gregor – it feels in turn that the production also begins to neglect Gregor, despite him becoming increasingly covered in what appears to be a very sticky and horrible substance, still moving hopelessly in his bedroom.

Yet despite the need for the production to be slightly sharper and clearer in motivation, the audience can’t help but be intrigued at how the story unfolds. In particular, the way in which the audience sees Gregor’s mundane routine brought to life in a series of clipped movements, helps the audience to perhaps understand the reason of Gregor’s transformation. Meanwhile, other elements such as Frank Moon’s music enhances that sense of theatricality and increasing sinister nature of the piece, while Guy Hoare’s lighting design helps to keep the piece focused.

As well as Edward Watson, the performances of Laura Day as Greta Sampsa and Bettina Carpi as the cleaning lady particularly stand out, with Day in particular able to add some much needed emotion to the drama.

Overall, it is a very atmospheric and theatrical interpretation that just needs to be slightly sharper to make it thoroughly engaging to watch. But it is certainly worth watching for Edward Watson’s performance as Gregor.

By Emma Clarendon

The Metamorphosis is available to watch through the Royal Opera House’s Youtube channel now.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐