Out of the Boat Theatre take on the Dostoyevsky classic, The Double, with wit and buckets of humour.
Based on the short story of the same name, Amelia Gabaldoni’s clever adaptation follows the mental turmoil of Jacob Golyadkin (Patrick Orme) as his life appears to crumble around him. Told through a single act the audience watches as Jacob’s uncomfortable life is thrown into havoc by the arrival of a far superior rival with the same name.
The bumbling and socially incompetent Jacob (the original) is played skilfully by Orme who creates a character that fascinates the audience and provides many of the laughs (mainly at his expense). His jerked movements and irritating accent resist descending into caricature, instead giving a depth to the character and his social inadequacies. These contribute to many beautifully comic moments, notably in scenes set in a window frame and at a Doctor’s surgery.
The obvious comedy provided by the blundering Jacob is contrasted by the dry wit and sarcasm that the Doctor and Receptionist bring, both played by Elaine Robertson. Cleverly juggling two roles, Robertson excels as the Receptionist. It was a pleasure to watch as she attempted to make life as awkward as possible for Jacob. At this point it seems only fair to mention ‘the chair’, which inadvertently joined Robertson for a double act during when it repeatedly refused to open. Robertson dealt with the technical mishap perfectly, however; her sly but subtle look to the audience only added to the comedy of scenes that she shone in.
The true double act of Clerk One and Clerk Two (Esme Sanders and Laura Plumley) also deserve a mention, carrying the play along with pace and fun. Playing several roles each, Sanders and Plumley both slid between characters with apparent ease and confidence.
The plot really kicks in with the arrival of a second Jacob Golyadkin (the double), played by Marcus Knight-Adams. This obnoxiously confident double is an instantly recognizable character who slowly but surely undermines every aspect of Jacob’s (the original) life. Knight-Adams plays the part with the ease and confidence required in such a role as he increasingly embodies the character that the audience loves to hate.
Credit must also go to Chloe Taylor and Jon Berry, as Klara and The Boss respectively, who both play their roles with such naturalism that it was easy to forget that this was an amateur production. Taylor’s sharp retorts were particularly clever and produced many laughs within the audience.
Set to minimal staging and well-chosen lighting, The Double was a pleasure to watch throughout. An extra special mention should be afforded to director Amelia Gabaldoni who has crafted a superbly funny and touching play. Thanks to its witty and naturalistic speech, the play ran apace, and the audience were entertained with every line. Gabaldoni and her cast have triumphed with this original production. A touching but light-hearted and immensely comical play, The Double was a thrill to watch from start to finish.