Diary of a Madman (3 stars)

This article is from 2009

Gogol adaptation which hasn’t quite found its feet

The action takes place in a small and shabby rented room in 19th century Petersburg. A small-time civil service clerk is losing his sanity, and we follow him through the days and months of developing madness. As the calendar on the wall takes us from 3 October to 33 December to 86 Martober, our protagonist talks himself through from infatuation with his boss’s daughter to the belief that he’s the King of Spain.

There is much that is very nice about Diary of a Madman – the set is charming and the use of props and stage space especially is creative and well-thought out – but something about the production fails to satisfy. The play is based on Gogol’s short story, and it never quite feels as though we’ve quite left the short-story genre. Quite possibly this production will gain power and intensity as the run goes on, but at present there is nothing about our civil service clerk to make him an especially novel or engaging character. The audience has little emotional investment in the madness of Axenty Ivanovich, and no especial reason to care whether he becomes the King of Spain or anyone else.

Underbelly, 0844 545 8252, until 30 Aug, 1.25pm, £6.50–£10 (£8–£9).

Diary of a Madman

  • 3 stars

"I love going to the theatre. As long as I've a kopeck in my pocket you can't stop me." Obsession... Alienation... Breakdown... Crisis... Psychosis... Trauma......And two little dogs writing each other letters. Axenty Ivanovich, a Russian titular councillor, finds he can no longer exist as a mere civil servant in St…