A timid and meek Golyadkin faces his nightmares, his friends, his enemies and himself in A Bad New Days Production of The Double, presented by the National Arts Centre English Theatre.
Should you see it?
Inspired by the Fyodor Dostoevsky novella by the same name The Double is a carefully crafted comedy of self-identity and discovery that finds our hero, Golyadkin, running from his past errors and towards his future, learning to embrace the errors he may still continue to make. With a steady musical narration, provided by Juno-Award winning musician Arif Mirabdolbaghi, the audience isn’t so much of an audience, as a participant in Golyadkin’s day as he ventures out to propose to the woman of his dreams, for a second day in a row after being viciously ridiculed after his first attempt. Along the way Golyadkin just can’t seem to make up his mind about any simple decision, for every positive reaction he has an equally negative reaction, he continuously vents about those who live double lives and wear masks, yet cannot seem to come into his own as an individual. All of that changes when he meets; you guessed it, his double. Golyadkin’s double is everything that he is not, despite looking exactly like him and having the very same name, and over time Golyadkin has to ask himself, is his double real or just the person he truly is under his own mask.
I’ve always enjoyed Dostoevsky’s work. It’s written in a harsh and cruel world yet deconstructed where social standings are never what they seem and people’s true intentions are always changing. His work is usually dark and brooding yet always manages to carry a sad taste of tragic comedy, which makes it iconic to the literary world. I had no idea how this novella would translate to the stage, but it works. Every little detail in this show is incredibly handled with perfect precision. From curtain rise to curtain fall you can’t help but remain in rapt attention at the action taking place on stage.
The Double is a very physical show that is directly linked to its musical narration. The three actors who took the stage: Arif Mirabdolbaghi as The Narrator, Viktor Lukawski who played an uncountable number of characters, and Adam Paolozza who not only directed this show but also played our hero Golyadkin, were precise down to every last detail. There wasn’t a single moment of unpolished stage time; they were captivating for each and every moment they owned the stage. This wasn’t three actors acting our three characters; these were three actors who became the characters.
The show is also bitingly funny. You have to remember that it is Dostoevsky so its humour will always have dark and tragic twists throughout the ride, but the adaptation of this story into an upbeat, almost cartoon-like script full of song, dance and pantomime kept everyone in stitches from beginning to end. There are few times I have ever used the word brilliant when discussing a show, but brilliant seems an understatement. Every component was meticulously crafted to create one knee-jerk reaction or another, and it was one hell of a ride.
I cannot recommend The Double enough; it has been a definite highlight of an already fantastic 2014/15 English Theatre Season at the National Arts Centre!
But that’s just my opinion and I’d love to know what you think. Did you find the content of The Double to be relevant? Do you think the interpretation did Doestovsky’s novella justice? Does this make you want to see more of Doestovsky’s works adapted for stage? Join the discussion and tell me what you thought in the comments below.
The Double was presented alongside the NAC Ontario Scene which has a promising list of shows coming up from April 29, 2015 until May 10, 2015. You can find more information about those shows at www.ontarioscene.ca.
The Double runs at The National Arts Centre Studio Stage until May 2, 2015.