As you enter the auditorium we see the set, a bedroom with a captivating forced perspective, masterfully crafted by Designer Jon Bausor to exude a dingy atmosphere from the get-go. The meticulous attention to detail in the design, with hidden tricks waiting to be discovered, sets the stage for what unfolds next. The use of a lower strip of stage space adds depth to the performance, allowing for actions beyond the confines of the room. There are moments where the main rooms turn a few degrees.

This rendition of Kafka's classic tale, reimagined by Lemn Sissay OBE, offers a fresh perspective that may initially confound those familiar with the original narrative. The show starts with the introduction of Greta, portrayed with grace by Hannah Sinclair Robinson, which offers insight into her relationship with her brother Gregor, now depicted as a fabric salesman. There is also a backstory of beggars, adoptions and lightning. Throughout the performance, echoes of Berkoff's production with use of unison are subtly acknowledged, adding depth to the reinterpretation.

True to Frantic Assembly's signature style, moments of physical theatre punctuate the narrative, with the ensemble seamlessly executing jumps, falls, and climbing on chairs. However, it is Filipe Pacheco's portrayal of Gregor that steals the spotlight. His amazing transformation, aided by inventive lighting and props, captivates the audience as he navigates the physical and emotional complexities of his character's journey. Pacheco's daring acrobatics, including hanging and twirling from lighting fixtures and railings, disguised as coving, showcase his remarkable agility and commitment to the role, leaving the audience amazed.

Complementing the performances is the captivating lighting design by Simisola Majekodunmi, which enhances the atmosphere and underscores key moments of the narrative. One standout scene sees Greta illuminated in the darkness, with shadows morphing into eerie beetle-like shapes created by violin scrolls and bows, adding a surreal foreshadow to events. Additionally, Gregor's presence is further amplified through glitching beetle-shaped shadows, adding to the haunting ambiance of the production.

This show was reviewed on the 6th February at the Lyric Hammersmith where it runs until the 2nd March 2024.  Tickets are available here: Metamorphosis - Lyric Hammersmith

Reviewed by Valentine Gale-Sides

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Photo credit: Tristram Kenton

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