Pros: Some very slick moments, good use of live video, and a thought-provoking concept.
Cons: Some of the choreography needed tidying up. There were moments where the action felt long and drawn out.
Metamorphosing is a research and development performance directed by Iddo Gruengard, a student enrolled in the Central Saint Martins Performance Design and Practice course. This course “brings together artists, directors, writers, researchers and designers to set the agendas that will drive performance practice in the 21st century”. With a view to challenging traditional territories and assumptions, it considers a wide snapshot of the current activity in the creative sector, both nationally and internationally. It aims to set students on the path of actively engaging in and contributing to future creative industries.
This 40 minute sketch performance was the first snippet of the overall piece devised as part of the course. The finished product will be about adapting to physical change caused by natural, traumatic, social or technological events. The extract focused on one character, Otis, coming to terms with a recent change to his body. It draws on scenes from Metamorphosis, a seminal work of early 20th century fiction from Franz Kafka which follows the story of travelling salesman Gregor Samsa. Samsa wakes up one day to find himself transformed into a large insect-like creature. There is little explanation for this transformation and the rest of the text focusses on Samsa’s attempts to adjust to his new physical condition, which repulses his family and turns him into a burden to them.
The action is largely made up of movement based performance with live video feeds and projections. It explores and conveys Otis’s intellectual and emotional battle with how he believes he is perceived by those close to him and by wider society following his transformation. The physical performances lend themselves excellently to this, portraying Otis’s struggle with his new perception of his physicality especially well.
There are some excellently choreographed movement performances with good physical discipline from the actors. The only real staging is some scaffolding in the middle of the space which the actors use towards the end of the piece. The use of a video feed projecting live close ups of the action alongside previously filmed media snippets is also a powerful device. There are some slower moments where it feels as if the choreography could do with tightening up, and some spoken moments which feel a little dragged out. It almost feels as if the scant direct conversation between the characters would fare better conveyed in a different way, perhaps using the projection/video medium completely rather than any speech from the actors.
Overall this was a thought-provoking sketch performance which deals with a complicated concept creatively. As a theatre goer I would be pretty interested in seeing the finished product once it has developed further.
Director: Iddo Gruengard
Movement Director: Kat Leung
Video: Bethany Sumner
Light: Marko Turcich
Music: (In future shows) Laurence Dollander Hughes
Costumes: (In future shows) Mette Sterre
More Information: http://www.arts.ac.uk/csm/courses/postgraduate/ma-performance-design-and-practice/
This was a R&D performance. Future shows are planned for March & May at Central Saint Martins.