Metamorphosis of The
Glasgow’s Tron Theatre
The tale of Franz Kafka, about a young man named Gregor Samsa who wakes up one morning to find himself turned into a giant insect, could have been tailor-made for Vanishing Point. In this new theatricalization of Kafka’s tale, under the direction of director Matthew Lenton, the ensemble’s penchant for gritty visual poetry is on full display.
The existential drudgery of Gregor was turned by Lenton and his team into an exquisite portrait of what happens when someone is cornered to the point of being dehumanized by a machine they can no longer bear. While it remains true to the original of Kafka, it is the terror and loathing of the people around Gregor that count.
Gregor is a slave to the gig economy that shifts overnight in his self-isolation in his bedroom in the play Lenton wrote with the ensemble. This is not a sullen teenager painting black on his walls, but a cry from the darkness that no one understands around him. Gregor’s room becomes a jail when his life is locked down and he becomes a prisoner. While he goes cold turkey, his family is forced to support the rich, foraging in the dirt for scraps of food.
It’s a stroke of genius to have Gregor play two actors, Sam Stopford and Nico Guerzoni, in a co-production with Tron and his Italian partner, Emilia Romagna Teatro Fondazione. Guerzoni crouches in the sparse yet unfussy ensemble of Kenneth MacLeod, illuminated by the lighting design of Simon Wilkinson, and speaks Italian, while his nonsensical family adheres to their own ways, their uniforms giving them the guards’ misguided authority. Mark Melville’s brooding electronic underscore heightens the intensity, highlighting the everyday hysteria in a Brexit-ravaged, Covid-19-consumed landscape where people like Gregor are treated like animals or aliens.
Guerzoni, wearing increasingly dirty pajamas, resembles an inmate in Belsen, Guantanamo, or any migrant detention center right on our doorstep. The result is a harrowing and harrowingly realized meditation on what it means to be a foreign body in an increasingly frightened world.