In art as in life, there is no such thing as being faithful enough. Fidelity is an absolute. It cannot be measured in numbers of steps or scenes preserved any more than a romantic betrayal can be calibrated by the quantity of lovers taken on the side, though the numbers do tell some kind of story. Rather, faithfulness to a text, whether choreographic or literary, is a question of spirit. We want a given “Swan Lake” or, in the present case, adaptation of Kafka’s Metamorphosis to honour the heart of the work (as we understand it).
The London-based choreographer Arthur Pita adapted “The Metamorphosis” for the stage in 2011 under the auspices of the Royal Ballet, with the hyper-flexible principal Edward Watson in the person–and bug–of white-collar drone Gregor Samsa. The chamber dance-play recently completed its two-week run at the Joyce Theatre in Manhattan, with the much-admired star reprising the lead. Compared to your average nineteenth century ballet, “The Metamorphosis” is supremely stable: the words in Kafka’s novella have not changed since its 1915 publication. And Pita does reproduce most of the plot (together with questionable interpolations). But he entirely misses the story.
So that’s the start of my review on the Pita adaptation for the Australian web dance magazine Fjord Review, to which I will be contributing once a month on a show of my choosing that I am not reviewing for The Financial Times, where I continue to write regularly.
Please click here for the full “Metamorphosis” review.