Tension builds in the irregularly-shaped room as Gregor Samsa reaches breaking point. But unlike the 1915 novella it is based on, this on-stage version of Kafka's Metamorphosis starts by setting the context to his nervous breakdown.

Overworked and overtired, Samsa seems to be experiencing what, these days, we would call 'burnout'. And when work becomes too much, the cost of living overwhelms his family leading to his father following a similar fate.

This Frantic Assembly production, written by Greater Manchester poet Lemn Sissay, proves that Franz Kafka's short story which was written more than a century ago is still relevant today. Scott Graham, who is the theatre company's artistic director, says he was struck by how 'relevant and resonant' this modern classic remains when he read it again recently.

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A critique of capitalism, this retelling of the tale about a young man who suddenly transforms into an insect covers contemporary issues affecting many people today - debt, poverty and mental health. Sissay's adaptation starts by explaining who Gregor Samsa was - and the struggles he faced - before his life was literally turned upside down.

To start with, Samsa succeeds in fooling himself and others into believing that he has everything under control. But as the first half of the play progresses, assisted by the increasingly tense background music, the mask gradually slips.

The living and breathing set starts to tilt as Gregor's life becomes increasingly unsettled and by the time his transformation is complete, the bedroom which he becomes his cage moves like a creature itself. The story of Gregor's downfall is gripping and at times painful to watch as Felipe Pacheco, who plays the leading role, embodies Kafka's character entirely.

But as the first half finishes at the point where the novella starts, the second half of this play goes in an unexpected direction by delving deep into the lives of the rest of the Samsa family. Gregor's mother rolls her eyes as her husband starts to tell his long stories, repeating the mantra 'beggars can't be choosers' - she doesn't want to hear it again.

However, the audience have to sit through it too and despite the impressive delivery of the monologue, it answers questions that no one was asking. The mother's story is slightly more intriguing, as is her daughter's - Gregor's sister.

But having piqued our interest into Gregor's life in the first half, the tension of the second half fails to reach the same peak. Pacheco's painful performance is faultless but only goes as his family tell their stories in the foreground

Frantic Assembly's Metamorphosis is on at The Lowry in Salford until Saturday, November 18.