After a successful run last fall, this solo adaptation of Nikolai Gogol's short story chronicling an average man's doomed quest for individuality in a seemingly indifferent city extends to an Off Broadway run, More…
Only in his madness does the lowly anti-hero attain greatness! 'Diary of a Madman' centers on Poprishchin, a low-ranking civil servant who yearns to be noticed by the beautiful daughter of a senior official, with whom he has fallen in love. His diary records his gradual slide into insanity.
"Throughout the brilliant painting that is Volok’s performance, every twitch of his face, every jerk of a limb, is another artfully placed brushstroke on the captivating emotional landscape of Poprischin...Volok is particularly engrossing to watch in the moments in which madness utterly consumes Poprischin...In addition to being a powerful and entertaining piece of art, 'Diary of a Madman' is a profound commentary on mental illness, homelessness, and empathy." Full Review
"Cool sound effects and inventive direction cannot compensate for the overwrought performance in this wearying solo play...Volok is quite personable and definitely commands the stage; his performance is heroic but it is so intense and his accent is often intrusive. Comical and sensitive portions are overshadowed by the perpetual ranting...Technically accomplished, Lazarev and Volok's adaptation is faithful to Gogol's tone but is diminished by Volok's misdirected performance." Full Review
"A particularly fine visual and theatrical experience...This adaptation of the original story is very well-written, and is delivered with an energy that vividly displays the dark, psychological troubles of this character...The main highlight of this production is the performance of Volok...He is very clearly immersed in the character and keeps the audience captivated and entertained...Won’t leave you bored for a second." Full Review
“Merely the most charming trace of Volok's native tongue, Russian, can be detected. What is far more prevalent is his unmistakably Russian soul, which is not dead in the least, but in the guise of the character and narrator of this piece, Poprishin, terribly damaged...Volok’s commitment to his character is unimpeachable. Every glance, movement, sound, word, laugh, and cry of his severely troubled tale is rendered with palpable pain as well as the innocence of truth." Full Review
“The journey of the show reveals the sanity within insanity and the power and fragility of the mind in solitude...Ilia Volok did not disappoint...There were initial moments when lighting flickered and sound effects sounded all-too-canned. When these aspects aligned, the experience was electric...Audiences eager to marvel at the mind and chuckle at the fervent and heartbreaking ingenuity of Ilia Volok’s performance should catch this show.” Full Review
"A triumph of acting...A performance of beauty and intensity...Volok is not alone on stage. The madness itself is tangible. The people, the dogs, all present. That is the strength of his performance. Mr. Volok is truth...I wish the production trusted him more. I wish they had seen that Gogol’s story and Volok’s performance are enough, so that they would not need to add so many sound and lighting cues that are distracting at best and absolutely overpowering at worst." Full Review
for a previous production "One sees the character Volok portrays morph into a doomed man trapped inside of his forced quarters; A lost soul that sheds into utter madness, making a point of what he is but far from being real...This presentation packs more intense spoken and physical drama than similar stage outings that can last for two or even three acts! Volok’s performance is extremely robust, having its audience hold the desire for more...For a single person showcase, it doesn’t get any better that this!" Full Review
for a previous production "This one-actor play is performed with consummate skill and precision by Ilia Volok, an amazingly talented actor...His rendering of the character of Poprishchin, the titular Madman, is at once both touching and frightening...The direction of the play is simple, elegant, and inspired. Volok and Lazarav don’t make any attempt to elicit sentimental sympathy while still allowing us to feel sorry for the man himself. This is a tightrope act that comes off beautifully.” Full Review
for a previous production "Gogol created a character who is a mixture of rationality and madness, a twisted, tormented soul who is also capable of moments of lucidity and understanding. The interweaving of humor, anger, hatred and delusions of grandeur gives the monologue its dense, complex texture -- and makes it a fiendishly difficult challenge for an actor. Volok rises to the occasion; he gives a powerful and commanding performance that this reviewer will long remember." Full Review
for a previous production "Gogol's short-prose masterpiece about a petty bureaucrat's dizzying plunge into the lowest depths of madness isn't exactly the stage-friendliest of texts. Which makes Volok's fevered and fascinating one-man turn all the more remarkable...Volok delineates the delirium with a fierce yet finely modulated intensity, while Lazarev's use of costuming to visually underscore Poprishchin's unraveling mind is a grace note to his otherwise spare but engaging production." Full Review
for a previous production "A bold and unique actor’s showcase, and a performance well worth attending...The story presents pleasantly timeless and universal themes that seem to tie a thread through time...The staging seems at times obtuse and often does not suit the space...All of this is surmounted by the tour de force performance by Volok...The strong script and commonality of the feelings it conveys lay the groundwork for effective storytelling...Succeeds primarily due to Volok’s fully-committed performance." Full Review
for a previous production "The original translation feels crisper and more contemporary than ubiquitous public domain versions. It’s particularly effective in evoking the Gogol story’s vivid mix of the comic and horrific...But the fact that Poprishchin’s madness is obvious from the outset leaves Volok nowhere to go except the no man’s land of over-the-top, actorly clichés of madness, and a tendency to embellish lines with pregnant dramatic pauses makes the piece slower going than it needs to be." Full Review
See it if you like long Russian drama, intricate character development, reflecting futility of ordinary man's quest for his recognition as special
Don't see it if you cannot sit through an intense emotional and physical 80 minutes of solo male monologue of decline into insanity without intermission
See it if Visceral, passionate, absorbing theater excites you and you wish to take a riveting journey into the soul of a character
Don't see it if You're looking for a musical, light fare, don't wish to become involved and don't like visceral, theatrical theater
See it if You'd like a taste of Russian playwriting and/or Gogol, or want to see an actor give everything he's got in 80 minutes. He really delivers.
Don't see it if Madness expressed in a small claustrophobic atmosphere is not easy for you to take, or if the non-uplifting Russian style is not your thing.
See it if Tour-de-force performance that captivates and spellbounds, with equal parts sadness, whimsy, and madness. Uncomfortably hot theatre.
Don't see it if you do not like solo plays, with a complex character
See it if Enjoy solo Tours de force? Want to be dragged along on a characters descent into madness? See it before it closes
Don't see it if Prefer big productions or elaborate staging, not here. Don't like being subjected to the demise of a character, probably should not see it.
See it if You want to see an incredible actor - Ilia Volok perform a role that is believable. He transforms himself on stage.
Don't see it if You don't like solo shows, don't like any of Gogol's work. Want an upbeat, funny show...this is not it.
See it if Even as the protagonist descends into madness, there is something relatable and uplifting about him. Why did I leave smiling? Superb acting.
Don't see it if You don’t like solo plays. You want more narrative than a single character’s loss of sanity. You don’t want to be moved in an unlikely way.
See it if you are enthralled with extraordinary acting, based on a Russian classic. This one man show by Ilia Volok was breathtaking to watch.
Don't see it if you are looking for something light and frothy, big productions, music, dancing
See it if you like intense acting or are interested in Russian literature and works about mental illness.
Don't see it if you are skittish about dark plays, mental illness, or monologues.
See it if you would like an intense one man show chronicling the main character spiraling into madness in a very creative performance.
Don't see it if you would not like to see an intense character study of a deranged man. The script often does not sense, but it's not supposed to...
See it if you’re a fan of great acting, and relish the opportunity to sit up-close and personal to enjoy the performance
Don't see it if you’re not a fan of one man shows, or dealing with the raw emotions of mental illness.
See it if timely!Poprishchin,as performed by Ilia Volok, is a victim of a dehumanizing society,and a Soul-Crushing job. We feel his isolation and pain
Don't see it if you are sensitive to this topic.
See it if You want to see someone slip into madness and watch their descent into the world of the crazy. Also does Ferdinand 8 really exists?
Don't see it if You don’t like one man shows. Although his acting very superb
See it if you want to see Russian theater in an extremely intimate setting-behind a court room in a police station. Volok was very good & convincing.
Don't see it if someone going more and more insane hits too close to home.
See it if Master class in acting. Full commitment to the role, humor, discovery, risk-taking, physicality, excellent use of vocal power and energy.
Don't see it if If watching Gogol’s madman sustain a manic performance that is highly emotional and never softly-spoken for 90 minutes would wear you out.
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