Metamorphosis' fine third phase

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 May, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 May, 1995, 12:00am

THE last in Sand and Bricks' Metamorphosis trilogy, based on Franz Kafka's story about a man who wakes up to find that he has turned into a beetle, Metamorphosis 95 is more about the effect the change has on his family than the insect-man himself.

Similar to Kafka's Gregor, Mr K wakes up one morning to find that he has turned into a worm. His mother shouts for him to wake up, his father bangs on his door, both afraid that he will miss his train to work.

When he doesn't show for some days, his company sends three colleagues to investigate. Because Mr K is the sole breadwinner of the family, his retreat into his cocoon deals a heavy blow to the family.

But the situation shakes the family out of their complacency to the extent that his father finds a job, and his mother discovers a hidden talent for currency speculation.

Sister Mei Mei stirs to learn some foreign languages in the hope of travelling, and even his mentally retarded younger brother is able to find redemption of sorts by trying to be the contemporary Noah and saving mankind.

Sand and Bricks put up its first version of Metamorphosis in 1988 and the second in 1994, and like its predecessors and in true Kafka form, the plays have been wide open to interpretation.

Metamorphosis 95 switches the focus from the insect-man to his increasingly dissatisfied sister Mei Mei, who begins to think that she can finally find the strength to fight the changes that are slowly taking over her life: she also feels she is going through a metamorphosis and will turn into a butterfly.

Yip Wai-yin reprises her role of last year. Although she started off a trifle nervously, she warmed up very quickly and turned in her nerves for an excellent portrayal of an angry young girl.

Yip was ably supported by wonderful casting, from Mr K's cursing father (Ting Mei-sum) to the simplistic pastor (Wong Thim-keung).

Wong Yin-fong put in a brilliant performance as the mother with a shoe fetish, as did Hai Tsiao as her mentally retarded son.

Hai must also be credited with the simple yet imaginatively brooding set design.

Technical factors were the only part of the play that disappointed.

Although the Shouson Theatre is relatively small, the depth of the stage made it difficult to hear the actors without the use of microphones.

But in all, the experimental theatre group's Metamorphosis 95 still came across as highly entertaining.

More importantly, it also about sums up the predicament of Hong Kong people in the run-up to 1997 - that, difficult though it is to shake themselves out of their passivity because of the endless changes that take place daily, it is also a time to take stock and do something. Metamorphosis 95, Shouson Theatre, Arts Centre. May 12