Skip to main content

The Metamorphosis: After Kafka and Nabokov

Summerhall, Edinburgh
Three stars

What to do if your leading lady passes away shortly before a performance? As is always the case with theatrical etiquette, the show must go on and you bring on the understudy, even if it’s a different species. That’s the back-story to this one-off Edinburgh International Science Festival date for a work-in-progress from biologist and some-time stand-up, Simon Watt, which aims to dissect one of modern literature’s seemingly darkest creations.

Over fifty-five minutes, Watt and a ukulele-playing accomplice first act out a lo-fi version of Franz Kafka’s story about down-trodden office worker Gregor Samsa’s transformation into what is usually translated as a dung beetle. This is something that novelist, entomologist and Kafka scholar Vladimir Nabokov took serious issue with. With this in mind, it’s perhaps fortunate that this pocket-sized contemporisation featuring a Zero Hours contracted Greg includes a real live cockroach rather than the unfortunately deceased stag beetle who preceded it. The audience sees this in projected close-ups filmed live by Watt from outside a dolls house type construction.

Once Greg comes to a sticky end with a whole lot more metaphorical fun than is usually found in Kafka’s work, the second half of the show throws Nabokov’s linguistic pedantry into an entertaining and at times off-the-cuff mix of pop science cabaret. This results in various six-legged creatures being passed around the audience for inspection. All of which makes for quite a show-and-tell, as assorted creepy-crawlies are accorded due respect while giving some educational insight into the secret life of the ‘vile and verminous insect’ of Kafka’s opening paragraph. There’s still some way to go yet, and Nabokov is crying out to have more of a say, but this might just be a monster show in the making.

The Herald, April 3rd 2018



ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Phoebe Waller-Bridge - Fleabag

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a busy woman. The thirty-two year old actress who burst onto our TV screens as writer and star of Fleabag, the tragi-comic sort of sit-com about a supposedly independent woman on the verge is currently overseeing Killing Eve, her new TV drama which she's written for BBC America. As an actress, Waller-Bridge is also filming a big screen project which we can't talk about, but which has already been outed as being part of the ongoing Star Wars franchise.

These are both pretty good reasons why Waller-Bridge won't be appearing in the brief Edinburgh Festival Fringe revival of the original stage play of Fleabag, when it opens next week at the Underbelly, where it was first unleashed to the world in 2013. In her place, Maddie Rice will take on the role of the potty-mouthed anti-heroine after touring Vickie Jones' production for Waller-Bridge and Jones' DryWrite company in association with Soho Theatre. This doesn't mean Waller-Bridge has turned…

Futureproof 2017

Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow until February 4th 2018
Four stars

Now in its ninth year, Futureproof's showcase of recent graduate photographers from seven Scottish art schools and universities returns to its spiritual home at Street Level, with nineteen artists embracing photo essays, abstraction and constructed narratives. It is Karlyn Marshall's Willies, Beuys and Me that grabs you first. Tucked in a corner, this depiction of a woman impersonating iconic artist Joseph Beuys says much about gender stereotyping, and recalls Manfred Karge's play, Man to Man, in which a German woman took on her dead husband's identity.

The personal and the political converge throughout. Ben Soedera's Foreign Sands contrasts natural resources and the constructed world. Gareth and Gavin Bragdon's The Bragdon Brothers moves onto the carnivalesque streets of Edinburgh. Kieran Delaney's Moments also looks at the apparently ordinary. Matthew Buick goes further afield, as tourists…