Already closed

Diary of a Madman

Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Ambitious, Intense, Intelligent
80
Critics
81
10 reviews
Members
80
23 reviews
 

This solo adaptation of Nikolai Gogol's short story chronicles an average man's doomed quest for individuality in a seemingly indifferent city.

... Read 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.

 

Cast & Creatives (4)


See all questions

To see or not to see (0)

See all questions

Reviews (33)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
81
Avg Score

75
Front Row Center

"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

85
On Stage Blog

"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

80
NYC Splash

“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

90
Drama-Queens

"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

80
Local Theatre NY

“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

80
LA Weekly

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

85
Total Theater

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

60
Los Angeles Times

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

95
Accessibly Live Off-Line

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

65
Stage Happenings

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

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
80
Avg Score

95
Great acting, Must see, Resonant, Great writing, Great staging

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

Also Includes exquisite effective interjection of various renditions of Una... Read more Read less

67
Dizzying, Intelligent, Intense, Overrated

See it if You are a Gogol fan and like his heavy handed critiques of class and modern society with its disrespect for individuals. Quite over the top.

Don't see it if There is a limit to your tolerance for unrelenting intensity, overacting, and perhaps overwriting. I have been sufficiently Gogol-ized!

67
Dark, Dizzying, Confusing

See it if You are interested in stories about mentally ill characters and enjoy piecing the story together.

Don't see it if You prefer sequential and logical stories and do not like over-acted dementia.

87
Absorbing, Great acting, Profound, Great writing, Great staging

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

75
Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Quirky

See it if You want to experience the workings of a deranged mind, with moments of clarity emerging from the morass of madness

Don't see it if You need linear storytelling and are uncomfortable in the presence of irrational behavior.

84
Absorbing, Edgy, Intelligent, Quirky, Relevant

See it if ...you want to see a masterful performance of a difficult piece.

Don't see it if ...you don't like one man shows or like easier, linear stories.

65
Great acting

See it if Want a break from the glitzyness of Broadway.

Don't see it if You find Russian plays or lack of staging boring.

68
Great acting, Intense, Repetitive

See it if You might enjoy a dramatic & intense representation of mental illness, a story about class differences in 17th century Russia, good acting.

Don't see it if If you are looking for something light and cheerful, you do not enjoy one man shows.

80
Great acting, Intense

See it if Great solo performer who commands your attention

Don't see it if Less a descent into madness than the exposition of a mad mind, but it's not as if the setting or ending was ever in doubt anyway.

79
Great acting, Romantic, Great writing, Slow, Entertaining

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.

Also Made me realize that all I've ever wanted was for someone to rhapsodiz... Read more Read less

90
Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if perfect acting, dramatic, illuminated gogol's story

Don't see it if you want to see something light and frivolous

75
Funny, Absorbing, Ambitious, Dizzying, Dated

See it if you enjoy solo, borderline performance art pieces with historical context. Great performance by actor.

Don't see it if you're looking for a modern piece or something with a clear beginning, middle, end plot.

81
Intelligent, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if You like Gogol and dark humor

Don't see it if you don't

75
Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy one man shows, nontraditional theatre, solid acting, paying attention

Don't see it if You don’t like to be close to the action, you require a linear plot to understand what’s happening, you don’t like paying attention

68
Ambitious, Intelligent, Intense, Confusing, Slow

See it if you like well-acted one character plays based on 19th Century Russian short stories and plots that are more impressionistic than literal.

Don't see it if you like ensemble acting, complex plots, elaborate production values, and comfortable seats.

95
Absorbing, Great acting, Profound

See it if you appreciate great classic theater and Russian literature.

Don't see it if you're expecting something typically contemporary.

Also This is a beautiful animation of Gogol's story. Volok is superb.

98
Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever

See it if You want to be moved by an extremely talented actor doing his interpretation of a classic Russian play

Don't see it if You have questions about your own sanity

85
During previews
Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Relevant

See it if You want to experience a great classic tale of a delusional character in a very intimate theatre instead of on MSNBC!!

Don't see it if You're looking for an escape from our current news reports.

90
During previews
Absorbing, Intense, Riveting, Entertaining, Committed

See it if You can use your imagination to fill in what you’re hearing but not seeing, can follow nonlinear stories, enjoy storytelling

Don't see it if You need fancy sets and seats, cannot follow nonlinear stories, need to see all action in a story

79
During previews
Great acting

See it if You appreciate fine acting.

Don't see it if His final descent into madness will be too discomfitting. If seats that don't quite stay in place if you move will be too uncomfortable.

Also You may well be initially charmed by his first delusions regarding dog... Read more Read less

84
During previews
Absorbing, Ambitious

See it if you want to see a classic performed by a very talented actor, emotionally potent subject matter...

Don't see it if If you would be disturbed by very graphic portrayal of mental decline in an individual .

85
During previews
Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Must see

See it if If you like the classics. This one man production was superbly done. It was absorbing and I was glad to get to see this.

Don't see it if If you don't like characters that have emotional issues. He is totally obsessed and delusional.

75
For a previous production
Dizzying, Confusing

See it if you enjoy interesting theatre and don't need a major name performing.

Don't see it if you have seen every play on broadway.