The Overcoat (5 stars)

This article is from 2009

The Overcoat

Warm and beautiful visual theatre

For anyone feeling trapped within a workplace, shackled by social convention and oppressed by materialism this collaborative adaptation by Gecko of Gogol’s short story will perfectly express your discontent. Amit Lahav’s production is a technical masterpiece, with music, sound and lights creating a perfect ambience, through which the performers move with astonishing deftness.

The story is of a young man in a dead-end office job, something of a social pariah, whose two fixations in life are a pretty co-worker and the overcoat offered as a prize for productivity by his forbidding boss. But everyone in the office wants the overcoat, and our hero is not alone either in seeking the girl. He finds that he is not beyond Faustian pacts in attaining his ends.

What follows is an endlessly inventive spectacle, in which the white-faced seven-strong cast display tremendous physical skills in recreating, through some gorgeous movement and body sculpting, an entire nightmarish world of reifying office politics and lonely domesticity. The text is spoken in a bewildering array of languages, each strangely stylised from the original Russian, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and more into a fascinatingly understandable cod dialogue.

The various moveable platforms of Ti Green’s ingenious set and costume design recreate a period modernist feel splendidly, offsetting the beguiling humour and ultimate sadness of this morality fable. What’s unmistakable is the contemporariness of the piece, as abuses of power, and the confusion of sexuality and commodity fetishism begins moving to the fore like dark, cancerous shadows as the piece proceeds. This is a quirky, funny and deeply moving piece of theatre, with so many little, warm, recognisably human ticks running through it that it can’t fail to please/

Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6557, until 29 Aug, 5.20pm, £14 (£11.50).


  • 5 stars

Get the coat, get the girl, change the world. Gecko create a fantasy, inspired by Gogol's 'The Overcoat', telling an epic story of love, greed and desire through comedy, cinematic imagery, movement and music. 'Hauntingly and recklessly brilliant' (Sunday Times).

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