Montreal Fringe Festival 2018:

The Shylock Project hits one out of the ballpark with «Kafka's METAMORPHOSIS (The Many-legged Musical)»

By Luc Archambault

Alexander LeBlond as Gregor/Franz Kafka
Photographer: Karel Blakele

     Last year, The Shylock Project took the Fringe Festival by force with a masterpiece named Orson Welles: Shylock. Well, this year, these magicians are back with another incredible and subtil play entitled Kafka's METAMORPHOSIS (The Many-Legged Musical). And, like last year, they are stealing the stage, setting the standard for quality and excellence quite high. I won't write a review in French, since to understand this jewel, one has to master the English language quite well. If you do, you'll enjoy a play/musical quite unlike anything you'll experience at the Fringe. This is a well-thought, deep-textured storyline, treading between the biography of Franz Kafka and his novel, The Metamorphosis. Under the direction of Matt Chiorini, who brings to the stage his words, lyrics and music (and he plays Kafka's/Gegor's father also), the cast revolves around Alexander LeBlond, playing Franz/Gregor. Morgan Smith plays Greta, his sister, remarkably, and Carleena Manzi plays the mother.

     This is a passionate ensemble, and it shows in their rendering of this text. I was at first apprehensive about the musical format of the play; but I was soon blown away by its rhythm and inventiveness. This company, under the direction of Matt Chiorini, leaves no stone unturned. It explores the intricate references to both biography and literature with a knowledge and assurance that only a high degree of Culture brings. And, to reassure the viewers, no prior notions of either Kafka's life nor his novel are truly necessary to enjoy this masterpiece. Of course, if you have prior knowledge of these, your enjoyment will only be greater; but one could use this intriguing play as a joyful introduction to this somewhat dark universe. I can only imagine the true joy one could derive from such a plunge into this insect's life. 

      With live musicians onstage with the actors (again, Matt Chiorini wears yet another role, as an occasional guitar player as well), this klezmer-inspired score comes to strengthen the text and lyrics. This is one of the richest hour you'll spend at this year's Fringe. Do not miss this for the world! When I saw it on Wednesday, there were a number of empty seats. You still have this Friday, Saturday and Sunday to make amends. Do not miss this! If there is one show to see this year, this is it! You won't regret it! DO NOT MISS THIS! It will transport you to Kafka's Prague, through the lenses of a cockroach... now who wouldn't wish such a fate?


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