Monday, 12 August 2013

Metamorphosis

Kings Theatre
Four stars
“My tiny body carries the weight of the world,” says Gregor Samsa in Wu 
Hsing-kuo's free adaptation of Franz Kafka's seminal novella for Wu's 
Taiwan-based Contemporary Legend Theatre. Such a notion is the rub of 
what is clearly a very personal take on Kafka's story of a young man 
who wakes up one morning to find that he has been transformed into a 
giant bug.

Utilising a fusion of ancient Peking Opera techniques and state of art 
projections, Wu performs solo, playing both Gregor and the sister he 
dotes on, while even a black-and-white clad Kafka makes an appearance, 
willing the empty shell Gregor has become to live. Wu's version of 
Gregor crawls out of a rock-like structure looking not unlike a 1970s 
Dr Who monster, but once he launches himself into the piece, even the 
bug's tendrils seem to have been choreographed to perfection. Out of 
this Wu lays bare Gregor's life of drudgery by way of a back story for 
Gregor as an abandoned orphan, something which had a profound effect on 
his gradual sense of lovelessness.

Wu may be the only person onstage, but his riveting performance is 
enabled by the stunning array of visual effects, and especially by a 
ten-piece band, who, like Wu, take traditional Taiwanese fare and make 
it thrillingly modern. By the end, Gregor may have been abandoned, but, 
in Wu's hands, he has managed to shed his old skin enough to find 
liberation enough to soar.

The Herald, August 12th 2013

ends

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