Iain Heggie's free adaptation of Gogol's Diary Of A Madman puts a skiving, delusional nobody onstage to tell of his sufferings in a massaging-the-figures job in the Department of Social Inclusion, run-ins with his landlady and the boss's daughter, encounters with talking "dugs" (dogs, not breasts) and ultimate incarceration.
Heggie pitches the madness gradually, building over 50 minutes from an occasional reference to "the real me" to full straitjacketed gibbering. Protagonist Tommy recounts dialogues in the demotic "I'm, like,... he's, like,..." form as his derangement grows to the point where we can not only see through his current fictions but come to question almost everything that has gone before.
Brian Pettifer delivers Tommy's story in the straightforward, affable style of the nutter who sits next to you on the bus and remarks quite conversationally that they're spying on him with rays. Pettifer, under Graham McLaren and Mark Stevenson's direction for theatre babel, astutely lets Heggie's writing do most of the job of indicating Tommy's growing insanity, only catching himself on occasionally and with increasing rarity until, by the end of this agreeable saga-in-miniature he almost makes the conscious decision to throw it all to the winds and go howling bonkers.
Written for the Financial Times Web site, ft.com
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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