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Metamorphosis 

When: June 10-July 24 2011
Price: $10-$55

Metamorphosis from man to cockroach is a hard thing to depict onstage, which was why many people had their doubts when marquees started appearing for Mark Jackson's Metamorphosis, a stage version of the famous novella by Franz Kafka. But remember, this is Mark Jackson we're talking about -- the same director whose dazzling interpretations of Goethe's Faust and Mary Stuart found instant favor with critics. His Metamorphosis is riotously, almost vindictively funny. Based on a script by David Farr and GísliÖrn, it's set in Cold War America amid a climate of anxiety and paranoia. Alexander Crowther stars as the bug-man GregorSamsa. He skitters and crawls about the house on rubbery limbs, precisely imitating the movements of a giant insect. His mother (Madeline H.D. Brown) and sister (Megan Trout) are mirror images of one another, both bone-blond and paralyzed by fear. His father (Allen McKelvey) is a domestic tyrant and retainer of the status quo -- at one point, he describes himself as "a small but significant cog in a big machine." Everything about this production is magnificent, from its parallel set pieces (the normal living room and slanty upstairs bedroom) and its creepy violin music to its message about social mobility. Through July 17 at AuroraTheatre (2081 Addison St., Berkeley). $10-$45. 510-843-4822 or AuroraTheatre.org

— Rachel Swan

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