Kafka’s Disgusting Tale of Transformation, A Buffoon’s Metamorphosis


by Phillip Andrew Bennett Low • August 4, 2008 • Sincere kudos to the performers, who fully commit. Unfortunately, the problem is that they’re committing to something that’s simply unbearable to sit through.

Womb With a View is the blog of Phillip Andrew Bennett Low, one of five bloggers covering the Minnesota Fringe Festival for the Daily Planet.

I think that the success of this kind of clowning hinges on giving the performers something to play *against* — in plays like 3 Sticks’ “Borderlines,” they were set loose in the world of politics. In the “Bouffon Glass Menajoree,” they gleefully tore apart Tennessee Williams’ text. I suspect that the intention was to do something similar with Kafka, but too little of his work remains. He hasn’t been comically distorted; he’s simply unrecognizable, leaving the rest of the play to descend into seemingly random chaos.

The other element they’re holding up — and this is interesting — the protagonist’s transformation is into an actual thinking, feeling human being, who’s incapable of functioning in a world inhabited by monsters. This is a cool idea — except that his transformation is rather into a trite, self-absorbed individual, spouting the power of positive thinking, bereft of any genuine insight. Maybe that’s inevitable, in the world of this play — that he’s incapable of transforming into anything else — but it still feels like a missed opportunity.

Phillip Andrew Bennett Low (maximumverbosityonline@gmail.com) is a playwright and poet, storyteller and mime, theatre critic and libertarian activist, who lurks ominously in the desert wilds of St. Louis Park, feasting upon the hygienically-prepared flesh of the once-living. His main claim to fame is probably as co-founder of the Rockstar Storytellers, and as founder/producer of Maximum Verbosity, a garage-band-like theatre troupe that is in a state of constantly re-defining itself.