Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Also see Susan's review of The Way of the World
Director Paata Tsikurishvili adds to the surrealistic nature of Kafka's story by picking up a device the author used in his story "Metamorphosis," which Synetic also has adapted. As Josef finds himself accused of a nameless crime and struggling to find answers, his tormentors are hideous, human-size insects (costumed with ingenuity by Erik Teague). Josef retains his human shape, including his bookish glasses, while he is surrounded by creatureseven his landlady (Kathy Gordon) and his neighbor (Tori Bertocci)with antennae, sharp appendages attached to their hands and arms and, in some cases, glowing eyes.
Nathan Weinberger's text adaptation uses dialogue, unlike many of Synetic's productions, but the words are used in a way that adds to Josef's growing awareness that nothing means anything. He can't fight the charges against him if no one can or will tell him what they are; he's tortured for asking questions; he seeks help and finds only corruption, predation, or advice to just give up. The most striking examples of this are Huld (Ryan Tumulty), a grotesque lawyer who rides around the stage in an electric cart, and his carnivorous attendant, Leni (Gordon).
Irina Tsikurishvili's movement design emphasizes the paradox of reality and unreality on Daniel Pinha's set. Figures crawl through windows and hover upside down, they emerge from holes in the floor and slither up and down stairs, as Brian S. Allard's lighting design shoots out beams in hot colors and washes the stage with a curtain of light. Composer Konstantine Lortkipanidze and sound designer Thomas Sowers add to the unease with an aural undercurrent based on a threatening industrial roar.