Sometimes you just know. There is something in the air. You’re not sure what, why or where but something is going to happen and that something will remain with you, whether for good or bad, beyond the hazy reflections of a horrendous midday hangover.
As I sat that there at C Too bar, sipping cheap red wine out of a plastic pint cup and trying desperately to fumble together something that might begin to resemble a reasonably shaped cigarette, I thought to myself ‘It’s 7:15pm. I’m really early. I have £1.27 in my pocket and, God only knows how, I’ve nearly finished this half pint of wine which I’m not actually sure is real wine. What am I going to do? I could go and get some more money and then return and see what they will give me if I ask for a beer. Pig vomit perhaps? Can I really be bothered?’
But then it happened. Then I knew it was going to be a night unlike any other I had experienced previously.
“Hello! You thirsty too? “
I wasn’t actually very thirsty at all at this point. Just very, very scared. I knew that I was going to have to spend the next 45 minutes listening to the ramblings of a tall, blonde, heavy chested drunk who didn’t even have the common decency to be female.
As it turned out, this individual (whose name, I am ashamed to say, escapes me and I fear shall not return to my memory) was an extremely charming, intelligent and generous human being who shared his wine without a thought of receiving anything in return but stimulating conversation . . . he had come to the right place. If you are reading this, I salute you kind sir and I hope our paths shall cross again someday.
As we walked into the theatre discussing our shared love of Italian red wine, I was feeling really good. We were both going to really enjoy this play and, once it was over, we were going to get stuck into another bottle of . . . ehm . . . ’wine’ and discuss it at great length, solving most of the world’s problems by approximately 2am. It was Kafka. The poster boy for the alienated, tortured artist. We loved people like him – another thing we found we had in common. Unsuccessful in life. Celebrated in death. It was going to be a great night.
It was going to be a great night.
It was not a great night.
Gregor awakes one morning to find that he has transformed into a giant beetle. He cannot go to work. His family, whom he supports, are terrified and do not know what to do.
The story itself, though you may not be able to grasp from my rather brief synopsis, is actually a rather powerful one of isolation and identity. If you ever come across the novella (one of the few pieces of work that was actually published during his lifetime; much of his now famous work was not even completed, let alone published, prior to his death) I strongly urge you to read it. Sadly, this production does not do any justice to the book.
The whole story is performed in a surreal circus like nightmare, which on paper should work with Metamorphosis but it just ends up being really annoying. While the clowning is all done very well and the performers deserve credit for their energy and acrobats, it makes the whole thing come across as pretentious and everything that the uninformed think that theatre really is.
There are some funny moments and I think the audience gets the message by the time the lights save us from suicide . . . but it could have been done so much better. A shame.
I walked out with a different feeling than when I walked in. Even my newly found friend looked glum. A feat I thought surely impossible only an hour before. No longer the man. No longer the moment or the feeling. Something beautiful and fresh had quickly become ugly and old.
Need I say more?
Times: 6-31 August (not 18 August), 8.00pm