27 February 2007

the Overcoat and a lamentation.

Went to see the Overcoat tonight, second time (first time was in 2000). SO.GOOD. Like, Gratuitous Weeping Good.

In a nutshell. It's about a dishevelled old man who works relentlessly at an office full of gits, gets a new overcoat, gets drunk and cocky whilst wearing it, loses it to a whore, and finds himself coatless in an insane asylum, until they give him a straightjacket and the curtain falls.
But it's like a Kafka story incarnate, all dark and odd and haunted and bureaucratic and such. And the performers are FUCKING MAGIC.

Instead of attempting to explain its brilliance, I will content myself with a few notes about the production from the program:
• 22 actors play 64 characters in this interpretation of Gogol's bitter and comic tale.
• There are 85 costumes and a two-storey, 20-tonne set, which travels in two 53-foot tractor=trailers on land or in four massive, ocean-going containers across water.

And a few of my own crucial observations:
• The entire play is silent, there are no words, just selections of Shostakovich's Jazz Suites, Piano Concertos etc.
• Props include sewing dummies (!), many bowler hats,(!), one well-set dinner table (!!) wooden drafting tables on wheels (!!!), and a very old kermit-the-frog-like bicycle (thumpa thumpa!!).
• The pieces of furniture move by virtue of actors lurking underneath them and crawling around on stage.
• The main character is the only one who has a name, and his name is The Man.
• The backdrop is a huge wall of fogged out windows that open and close to form everything from a police station, an apartment building with a trollope leaning out the window, the offices, etc etc. And there is a huge rolling staircase. And rolls of blueprints. And ladies dressed dapperly.
• A man in a bowler hat cycles across the stage twice (twice!!!) during the production.

If i could ever make an illustrated book the way that play is constructed, I would consider myself a Very Clever Person Indeed. Actually i'd LOSEMYMIND.

Other than that, today I lamented the fact that I have no idea what it's like to be 60. And there is nothing I can do about it.

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