A SURREAL, stunning and sophisticated adaptation of Kafka’s famous play, Metamorphosis, proved overall success despite a somewhat shaky start when it was performed at the Mercury Theatre.

Frantic Assembly used their well-known techniques – repetitive and daring physical acting – in a way which seemed tailor-made to Metamorphosis, originally a novella published in 1915 by the iconic Franz Kafka.

Metamorphosis’ plot depicts a man turning into an insect, yet in this production it felt at times more like overt symbolism to represent anyone from any era who may have a severe breakdown due to financial woes.  

In the opening minutes having dialogue only consisting of what could be described as a clinical ‘word salad’ proved a bold choice. 

The approach was later powerfully used to expose how one archetypal rentier-class character himself would use a lot of idioms, clichés, and right-wing parroting which would be verbally and physically copied by others.

The second act mirrored the play's opening, which featured weird and wonderful ritualistic movements set to gibberish words, and saw the piece truly come to life, as characters tapped into that rhythm, also unravelling.

All of the acting was sublime, with stand-out moments from the increasingly pathetic, like-his-son, father, played by Troy Glasgow, who sold his long-winded monologues, and his wife, performed by Louise Mai Newberry, who was used well as a comic scene-stealer and often as the most realistic emotional character.  

Leading man Felipe Pacheco, acting as Gregor, gave a tour-de-force performance in his grounded and large characterisation of insanity.

Throughout he provided outstanding bug-like jumps onto the top of the greige cocoon-like stage, leaping onto moveable lights, barely seeming to break a sweat.

Hannah Sinclair Robinson, meanwhile, portrayed Grete Samsa as a subtle character, eliciting sympathy and disdain for her young self.

And Joe Layton in the dual role of Chief Clerk and Lodger lifted the play as the authoritarian character, enabling cast-chemistry and more social commentary.

This version of Metamorphosis, which stuck to its guns by embracing its uncomfortableness and admittedly complex text, entertains with its mass-appeal and spectacular physicality, making it an all-around must-see production.

Rating: 4 ½ stars out of 5.

Metamorphosis is at the Mercury Theatre until Saturday.