Kafka’s Famous Character Gregor Samsa Meets Dr. Seuss in a Great Radio Play

If you don’t have enough exis­ten­tial angst in your life — and if you’re oper­at­ing on the the­o­ry that there’s no such thing as too much Kaf­ka (see our post from ear­li­er today) — then check out this radio play called Sam­sa & Seuss, which aired orig­i­nal­ly on the CBC show Wire­tap before appear­ing on This Amer­i­can Life. The piece is based on an epis­to­lary short sto­ry by the late, great David Rakoff and is per­formed by Rakoff along with Jonathan Gold­stein.

The sto­ry begins with a des­per­ate Gre­gor Sam­sa reach­ing out to Dr. Seuss look­ing for some way to cure him of his mal­a­dy — i.e. being a bug. Seuss’s reply is writ­ten entire­ly in verse — “Rest assured, I’ll endeav­or to glean and deduce. You’ll be bet­ter than ever or my name isn’t Seuss” – which con­fus­es Sam­sa to no end. At one point, Sam­sa asks, “Is met­ri­cal rhyme an Amer­i­can mode of cor­re­spon­dence?”

Yet what could be a one-joke nov­el­ty grows sur­pris­ing­ly poignant in Rakoff’s deft hands. When it becomes clear that the doctor’s eccen­tric health regime – “mag­no­lia cus­tard and rose­hip souf­flé and some dew drops with mus­tard” – has failed to fix the ail­ment of the increas­ing­ly depressed Sam­sa, Seuss’s cheery can-do atti­tude turns reflec­tive:

I’m aston­ished at times when I think of the past, of my thou­sands of rhymes, of how life is so vast. I’m left, then, to won­der how any­one gleans a pur­pose or sense of what any­thing means. It’s not ours for the know­ing. It’s mean­ing abstruse. We both best be going. Your lov­ing friend, Seuss.

And you thought The Lorax felt a lit­tle bleak.

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

BBC Radio Play Based on Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon Stream­ing Free Online

Down­load Brave New World for Free: Dra­ma­tized Ver­sion Read by Aldous Hux­ley

Isaac Asimov’s Sci­ence Fic­tion Clas­sic, The Foun­da­tion Tril­o­gy, Dra­ma­tized for Radio (1973)


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