The word “Kafkaesque” is commonly misused, but most understand it to mean some mixture of complicated and unsettling.
And “Kafka’s Metamorphosis: The Musical,” at Auburn Public Theater this weekend and next, is indeed complicated and unsettling.
Matt Chiorini and Travis Newton’s show is derived as much from the 1915 novella in its title as it is from the correspondence author Franz Kafka shared with his distant father. So it splices passages from “Metamorphosis” with Kafka’s confessional words, which are spoken with both vulnerability and intellectual poise by Jack Rento. But if that’s not complicated enough, his Kafka presents “Metamorphosis” as a musical within the show. He frequently breaks the fourth wall to communicate with the audience, disorienting it even further. Meanwhile, the “Metamorphosis” segments use black lights, shadow play and Rento’s preternatural agility to achieve the, yes, unsettling mood of Kafka’s most well-known work, in which salesman Gregor Samsa wakes up to find he’s become an insect.