Dance: Royal Ballet bugs out with Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’

Edward Watson, as Gregor Samsa, completes his transformation into a bug.  Credit: Tristram Kenton
Edward Watson, as Gregor Samsa, completes his transformation into a bug.
Credit: Tristram Kenton

Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis,” written in 1915, is essentially a study in interiority. Nothing much happens: A man turns into a bug and his family is floored, at once compassionate and revolted.

Arthur Pita, a choreographer born in South Africa and trained in London, took Kafka’s story, updated it to the 1950s, and changed a few significant details. The result is a handsome, 90-minute dance-theater work that tugs at many emotions, ultimately leaving spectators exhausted. Designer Simon Daw’s set and costumes are crisp and functional. Frank Moon’s music, both live and recorded, saws at our nerves until we are as frazzled as poor Gregor Samsa, the salesman who wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into a beetle. British dancer Edward Watson rivets our attention in this role, more praying mantis than cockroach with his long limbs and articulate toes.

His devoted little sister (Corey Annand), a violinist in the story, is here rendered as a student dancer; her progress marks the passage of time. Their parents (Nina Goldman and Anton Skrzypiciel), tortured in different ways, evade the issue of their suffering son; the family’s interrelationships are thoroughly Freudian, anchoring the tale to its mittel-European roots. The most winning, least-affected performance is that of Bettina Carpi as the brusque maid charged with cleaning up after Gregor.

This Royal Ballet production won lots of prizes in London two years ago, and it’s certainly a masterpiece of stagecraft, down to the gooey stuff that oozes from the poor creature trapped in his bedroom. But Pita never solves the essential problem: how to turn Kafka’s meditative work into an action-adventure.

Royal Ballet’s “The Metamorphosis”
Through Sept. 29
Joyce Theater,
175 Eighth Ave.


Memorial held for Sean Collier, MIT police officer…

More than 1,600 people gathered at MIT on Friday for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the police officer shot to death a year ago in the aftermath of the…


Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.


Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.


OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…


Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."


'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…


MLB video highlights: Red Sox defeat Orioles, 4-2

Brock Holt the difference in the Red Sox' win


NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump…

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump Bruins in Game 1


MLB video highlights: Orioles top Red Sox, 8-4…

John Lackey roughed up for second straight outing


MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox


How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.


VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.


#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.


Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.