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Belt Up's 'Metamorphosis'
Published on Sunday, 22 August 2010

4.5 stars

C soco (venue website)
4-30 Aug (not 25), 5:00pm (6:15pm)
Reviewed by Livi Watson

As you are invited into the home of the Samsa family for Belt Up’s production of Metamorphosis, you may wonder exactly what you have let yourself in for.  The cosy environs of the Samsa living room, complete with sofas, rugs and all the commonplaces of a normal family home, are vividly juxtaposed with the simultaneously creepy and comic clowns who surround you, talk directly to youand poke you as if you were the oddity in the room.

The metamorphosis from audience to participants in this bizarre charade foreshadows the ghastly metamorphosis undergone by Gregor Samsa, as he turns from a hard-working salesman into a grotesque social outcast, shunned and persecuted by firstly his own father and eventually the rest of his family.  It’s a sad and surreal tale that is perfectly suited to the Belt Up cast, who are without exception excellent performers, morphing from sweet to sinister roles in the blink of an eye.

Take, for example, the changes undergone by the whole cast as they transform from an endearingly simple family, to a troupe of toads, to malevolent individual characters such as Gregor’s boss and a maliciously nosy cleaner.  The acting, at such close quarters, is genuinely impressive.  The cast don’t let their characters slip for a second, from the moment they welcome the audience with joyful greetings and jokes, to the point at which we leave, accompanied by sad waves and mournful faces.

The staging is as eclectic as the characters, with trampolines enabling the cast to bounce between levels, and a metal frame around Gregor’s bed which changes from a doorway to a cage as his metamorphosis becomes complete.  The audience, seated in the Samsas’ living room, is able to watch the action unfold, and individuals are occasionally dragged into the centre to partake of the action.  This lends the entire show a delightful sense of novelty and intimacy, although perhaps the seating arrangements won’t be to everyone’s taste.

Belt Up productions rarely fail to impress, and Metamorphosis is no exception.  Kafka's plot is moving, if slightly bizarre, but it is the show as a whole that makes the hour so effective – it forces you to actively participate rather than simply being a spectator, and as a result the tragic ending of Gregor Samsa is all the more poignant.  The ultimate in escapism, Belt Up’s Metamorphosis makes for a surreal hour that is well worth watching.

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These are archived reviews of shows from the Edinburgh Fringe 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to those we've featured, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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