Graham Dickson Is The Narcissist (4 stars)

Graham Dickson Is The Narcissist

A one-man study of the tortured artist with a little help from his friends

Another Austentatious alumnus gone solo (alongside the likes of Joseph Morpurgo, Rachel Parris and Cariad Lloyd), Graham Dickson's debut hour is rapier sharp. It's a complex and pleasingly meta-affair as we witness the rehearsals of Dickson's new play based on the life and work of Grigoriy Alexeivich Dhukov, a (probably not real) Russian writer carved from the same mould as Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy.

The show's bulk is a series of darkly comic sketches and character work but the meat of The Narcissist is lampooning the idea of the tortured artist as both the play and Dickson's life start to merge. It might be Dickson who prowls the stage but The Narcissist is actually a two hander, with director Hamish MacDougall's vocal interjections essential to the plot. Unashamedly literary but instantly accessible, sketches jump from a US country singer to a surreal take-down of critics ('crickets') with Dickson transforming physically and vocally as we run though Dhukov's work.

However, the greatest performance is reserved for when he plays 'himself': pretentious, egotistical and conceited but striving for truth and purity in his art, losing his grip on reality and dragging us kicking and screaming (with laughter) into his madness. All of which builds towards a manic crescendo that plays out beautifully.

Underbelly Cowgate, until 27 Aug, 8.10pm, £10–£11 (£9–£10).

Graham Dickson is The Narcissist

  • 4 stars

Berk's Nest in association with PBJ Management Grigoriy Alexeivich Dhukov is one of the world's greatest unsung literary talents. The tragic and inspiring story of the great Russian absurdist is brought to thrilling life in this bold theatrical adaptation of his masterpiece, The Narcissist. Or is it? A character comedy…

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