Nikolai Gogol’s celebrated dark comedy of a minor bureaucrat’s imaginative narration of his life, position and mental deterioration will be brought to life at The Street Theatre this June in Diary of a Madman.
Gogol’s satire takes us into a fantastical world filled with laughter and rage, the tragic and rapturous, and one man’s quest for individuality in a seemingly indifferent, urban city.
Poprishchin is tantalised by his dreams of fashion, women and fame and what he is not able to possess, and battles snobbery, complacency, and the stupidity of officialdom, as he chronicles his daily life, from the unsavoury habits of his superiors to a suspicion that dogs can talk. One day he makes an amazing discovery – The King of Spain has died without an heir – and suddenly destiny and greatness call.
Award-winning actor PJ Williams portrays Poprishchin, the low-ranking public servant slaving away in impoverished anonymity, struggling to make his mark in the bureaucratic world, who yearns to be noticed by the beautiful daughter of a senior administrator. Tuovi, the Finnish charwoman who becomes Poprishchin’s ally, is performed by Lily Constantine, a newcomer to The Street stage and Canberra, who also plays Sophia, the Director’s daughter and Tatiana, an asylum inmate.
Adapted for the stage by David Holman, Gogol’s wildly absurd masterpiece will be directed by Caroline Stacey with Designers Imogen Keen (Set and Costumes), Niklas Pajanti (Lighting) and Seth Edwards-Ellis (Sound), setting the stage for audiences to experience Poprishchin’s slide into chaos, capturing the condition of Gogol’s poor hero balancing on a giant staircase, scored dogs’ voices surrounded by an epic soundscape and precision lighting.
Written in 1834, Diary of a Madman represents the kind of cutting edge writing that placed Gogol in the forefront of Russian writers, with great influence on the generation that came after him. Set in St Petersburg in the time of the Tsar this work sits at the intersection of social satire and psychological portrait and is as relevant today as when first written. Gogol’s short story has long been recognised as a powerful dissection of mental disintegration.
Director: Caroline Stacey Featuring: PJ Williams, Lily Constantine Designer: Imogen Keen Lighting Designer: Niklas Pajanti Sound Designer: Seth Edwards-Ellis Adaptation: David Holman
Diary of a Madman
The Street Theatre, 15 Childers Street, Canberra City West
Season: 2 – 16 June 2018
Information and Bookings: www.thestreet.org.au
Image: PJ Williams stars as Poprishchin in Diary of a Madman – courtesy of The Street Theatre