Metamorphoses in Liverpool: A Complex Adaptation by Mary Zimmerman and Lemn Sissay Leaves Audience Divided on Dramatic Impact and Poetic Overtones


Overall Rating: ★★

“Metamorphoses” came to Liverpool following a massive hype and an unprecedented marketing campaign, especially given its run was only for a week. It, therefore, had a lot to live up to. Personally, I felt it didn’t deliver, as the poetic nature detracted from the dramatic elements of the play. This made the verse tiresome throughout the performance and hard to follow in most parts, leaving me wondering how much longer I would have to endure until the final scene.

The couple in front of me fell asleep (they were fellow press reviewers); a lady to the side of me snored loudly and never returned for the second half. The hordes of A-Level students made frequent trips to the toilets. It’s safe to say this was a difficult play for many patrons to enjoy that night.

“Metamorphoses” is a play by the American playwright and director Mary Zimmerman, adapted from Ovid’s classic poem of the same name. Lemn Sissay adapted Franz Kafka’s novella into a mind-boggling script, which Frantic Assembly then brought to the stage.

On a positive note, the set design was impressive, and the use of screen graphics and projection effectively set contexts and moods. Movement was continuously frantic, varying from sedate to dance to acrobatics in some parts. The music was effective, and the lighting enhanced the set, allowing for a number of surprising entrances and exits. This adaptation was also thought-provoking and current, resonating with the ‘engaged’ audience with its theme of a family weighed down by debt and the sometimes unbearable pressure of being the breadwinner.

This is a play to watch only if you are a fan of Kafka or studying this as part of your A-Level course. If you are looking for an entertaining and easily digestible performance, this play is not for you.

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