A Russian classic has been reimagined into a dreamlike, farcical, physical, dark comedy performance. Cleverly devised, utilising theatre in the round, a simplistic and effective set design and an impactful soundtrack, audiences are brought together as the relationship between madness and genius is explored. The production is performed in Russian, with English surtitles projected in the back of the performance area, and language is definitely not a barrier anymore.
Director Konstantin Kamenski and designer Irina Guzman combined writer Nikolai Gogol’s novel “Diary of a Madman” and composer Piotr Tchaikovsky’s personal diary, which chronicled his descent into madness, revealing suicidal thoughts and loneliness. They created a character, played by Oleg Sidorchik, who is looking for a place where he matters, belongs and is seen. On top of all of this, he also searches for love.
Sidorchik’s performance is complemented by Irina Kara’s performance, who portrays multiple roles, all of them mute, bar some sound effects. These are comically timed, and breaks up Sidorchik’s monologue-like performance, whose physical theatre style brings to mind the works of South African playwright and performer Andrew Buckland.
Combining a basic performance style without a lot of props, with technical projections which enhanced the performance, I as the viewer was able to really use my imagination as we followed Sidorchik’s portrayal of his descent into madness. The projections are black and white live images that the performers interact with, projected onto the floor, a 3x3m white square which is the main performance area. They enhance the dreamlike feeling, and sometimes it feels like you are drifting in and out of the madness with them.
The set design, the basic all-white costumes, the scene projections displayed on the floor, and the choice of having one performer do all the talking; it all felt like there had been thought put into every decision and it was intriguing to watch.
Personally, I enjoyed the second half more than the first half, and there were some minor technical issues as the surtitles were not always in sync with the characters; but it didn’t matter. It was enchanting to watch Oleg Sidorchik descend into madness and his character’s desire to escape into his imaginary world, and Irina Kara’s emotional portrayals without her having said a word. Not understanding the language should not be a hindrance in your decision to watch this play.
Review by Olivia Jannesson
London based Russian theatre company Xameleon Theatre is back at The Cockpit with their brand new show Diaries of Madmen
Diaries of Madmen is based on Nikolai Gogol’s novel Diary of a Madman and composer’s Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky’s personal diaries.
Famous farcical short story by one of the greatest Russian writers Nikolai Gogol, is a funny and brutal exploration of a civil servant’s Poprishchin struggle to keep a grip on reality.
Another civil servant Piotr Tchaikovsky, who later became one Russia’s most celebrated composers, also had a complicated relationship between his inner world and reality. His personal diaries reveal his daunting self-doubt, suicidal thoughts and loneliness.
Madness might mean a failure to find your proper place in the world, or the compulsion to occupy a place to which you’re not entitled. Diaries of a Madmen exposes a man’s longing to find such a place for himself, a place where he is visible, where he matters, and above all, belongs.
DIARIES OF MADMEN
Reimagined Russian classics
TUE 5 FEB 2019 to SUN 10 FEB 2019