Ich, das Ungeziefer (I, the vermin)
Based on Franz Kafka’s short story »The Metamorphosis«
By Péter Kárpáti / German translation by Sandra Rétháti / Repertoire
„As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic vermin. “ Thus begins the probably most famous story of the 20th century, which was written in 1912 in Prague by the then largely unknown writer Franz Kafka. Hungarian playwright Péter Kárpáti has written a stage adaptation for the production which is directed by his fellow Hungarian Viktor Bodó and premieres in the MalerSaal under the title »I, the vermin«.
“When »The Metamorphosis« was published for the first time, Franz Kafka did not allow the vermin to be pictured. The vermin cannot be shown, it is unrepresentable. So what is the vermin? The projection of a guilty consciousness? A penalty? A metaphor of depression? Or a confession by the author, unable to live a human life? Is it a role play? A kind of camouflage? A nightmare? Maybe Gregor did not transform into a vermin at all, and it is only his family seeing him as such? Or maybe he has he been a vermin since birth? And is it a curse or a blessing to be a vermin? Or even a revolt? A one-man performance, a provocation, a judgement on society? Or perhaps it was not he who was transformed, but the others? Are they the vermin and not Gregor?
The most uncanny aspect of this narrative is perhaps Kafka’s “hypernaturalistic” rendering of the absurd story. Besides the vermin, there is no element that would not be considered oppressively commonplace. The hidden and ominous irony foretells impending calamity. Shortly after its completion, the First World War broke out... Since then exactly one hundred years have turned all of mankind into vermin. The vermin in the mirror of the present is looking back at us now. Strange, yet somehow familiar, and not particularly frightening. It looks like a caricature of a caricature. A moment ago it coughed, now it winks, smiles, grabs its nose in fright – like me. Who can it be, this likeable, attractive vermin in the mirror? Someone should introduce us...” (Peter Kárpáti, transl. Sarah Jan Ablett)
Photos © Thomas Aurin