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The Double

Published Friday 30 November 2012 at 11:08 by Jeremy Brien

Ustinov Studio artistic director Laurence Boswell always makes a point of directing one of the new works in his excellent repertory season, now an established and much-lauded feature of the programme in the second house. For the current Transformation Season - bringing strong literary texts to life on stage for the first time - he has chosen to direct his own inventive adaptation of an 1846 Dostoevsky novella on the familiar themes of angst and distress, seen through the thoughts and actions of a downtrodden civil servant.

Obviously we don’t find the depth here of Crime and Punishment or The Brothers Karamazov, but this is still a potent mix of paranoia and theatrical artifice. The central character, played by Simon Scardifield with increasing despair, is a lowly government clerk who might have stepped straight out of a Russian version of The Office.

He awakes out of a nightmare to find he has a repugnant doppelganger, brilliantly represented by a full-size puppet designed and constructed by John Roberts, Jan Zalud, Sue Field and Lyndie Wright. This is not good news, for his double`s behaviour creates havoc, threatening to ruin both his professional and social life.

In addition to the life-size puppet, Boswell decorates the though-provoking narrative with a splendid collection of smaller marionettes, and the denouement is particularly telling in its portrait of mental disintegration. There is lively work also from the four supporting players - although, as always with Dostoyevsky, not many laughs here.

Production information

The Ustinov Studio, Bath, November 22-December 22

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Laurence Boswell (adaptation)
Laurence Boswell
Theatre Royal Bath Productions
Simon Scardifield, Rob Edwards, Jane Leaney, Nicholas Karimi, Sean Murray
2hrs 10mins

Production information displayed was believed correct at time of review. Information may change over the run of the show.

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Run sheet

King's Head, Islington London
January 24-February 15 2014