Pros: The reworking of great works of literature into three half hour monologues is an interesting concept and the performances are energetic and intense. The stage and lighting design were first class.
Cons: The Man With The Flower In His Mouth and Metamorphosis could have been a little stronger and were performed with a constant level of intensity – more dynamic presentation would sustain interest.
This show is part of a series of nine monologues presented in three triple bills, which encompass The Faction’s ambition to interpret classic works of literature in modern adaptations. The three I went to see were Kafka’s Metamorphosis, Pirandello’s The Man With The Flower In His Mouth and Euripides’ Medea. The three works provide plenty of contrast both with the subject matter and presentation whilst remaining centralised around a theme of mortality and death. It’s a concept that works extremely well and there is a clearly some talented writing and creativity around the interpretation and staging of these well-known stories.
The first piece, The Man With The Flower In His Mouth is an intricate and intense portrayal of a man facing the final days in his battle with cancer. The staging includes the man’s eye-to-eye contact with a video camera projected on to the screen behind him, which cleverly heightens the intimacy the audience has with the character, as he talks through the minutiae of his thoughts and insecurities at this critical time. I enjoyed this performance but found the constancy of the emotion and the speed of the speech lost me at times. There is plenty of nuance to unsettle the audience and the impact is very good – the character portrayal was excellent and this is a well-written and well-performed piece.
The following performance, Medea provides a stark contrast both in subject matter, style and tone, as we listen to the thoughts of both the character and her dress, as she prepares to murder her children to reek revenge on the husband that has left her for a younger woman. The lighting design and direction here is excellent as the dress is adeptly thrust into a character of its own with the use of clever spotlighting. The performance is also intense but in a Shakespearian vein – the language is poetic and very formal and the delivery highly thespian in manner. I was reminded of Lady Macbeth’s madness as the fury and wrath of the scorned woman poured from the stage.
After the interval we return for the performance of Metamorphosis. The corporate hard-working, well-spoken, middle class character’s life is transformed as he turns into a beetle, and we are taken through the story of his rejection by all who loved him. This was incredibly well staged and the acting was brilliant – the stark contradiction between the movement, physical contortion and speech patterns of the character as a man and insect skilfully create the metamorphosis without the use of props or costume. I thought the monologue waned a little in the middle section as the discourse on the family’s reaction was a little long, but that said, I was gripped by the performance until the very end. The physical energy put into the performance was impressive and the sparse use of clever props only added to a highly credible performance.
I really enjoyed this production and it would be well worth seeing all nine monologues, particularly if you have an interest in classic literature. The New Diorama is a great place to see them too – easy to get to, modern welcoming and comfortable, it’s a pleasant place to spend an evening (or three) at the theatre.
Adapted by: Gareth Jandrell and Emily Juniper
Produced and Performed by: The Faction
Booking until: 19th September
Box office: 020 7383 9034
Booking link: https://tickets.newdiorama.com/WebPages/EntaWebShow/ShowDatesCombo.aspx