Already closed | 1h 10m | Midtown W

Diary of a Madman

From 67 member  reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Intense, Ambitious, Intelligent

About the show

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.

Member Reviews (67)


Great acting, Absorbing, Intense, Ambitious, Intelligent
Avg Score

Funny, Enchanting, Moving, Masterful, Dizzying

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.

Great writing, Intense, Intelligent, Great acting, Heavy

See it if you would like to see a convincing portrayal of a petty functionary's descent into total madness.

Don't see it if you're craving light fare. Gogol was a farceur, but this adaptation, with its convincing portrayal of a descent into madness, is very heavy.

Also Halfway through this piece I found myself wondering if the stage were ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Entertaining, Clever, Dizzying

See it if love a rarely done show. So much better than then book

Don't see it if you need a musical or fluffy comedy

Ambitious, Great acting, Confusing, Riveting, Dated

See it if You have an interest in 19th century Russian drama. You want to see an excellent performer. You like intense dramas.

Don't see it if You want a contemporary story. You want a story with a traditional narrative thread: it is a madman's diary, so it's confusing & unfocused.

Great acting, Intense, Confusing

See it if The acting is very good, Russian Play Drama. The story/play is confusing and all over the place in thought. Its about a man going crazy.

Don't see it if He plays the part excellent that seeing someone going thru crazy/mad may be hard to watch.

Great acting, Overrated

See it if You want to see a great performance and watch a character go completely mad before your very eyes on stage

Don't see it if You usually don’t like plays that only feature one actor

Also I feel like everyone else saying that the performance was great but it... Read more Read less

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.

Absorbing, Dizzying, Great acting, Masterful, Riveting

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.

Also I can't imagine this piece being performed better. Even if you're mild... Read more Read less

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

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

Entertaining, Dated, Slow

See it if You like solo shows and are interested in Russian stories. This one seemed to drag a bit, despite a heroic effort by the actor.

Don't see it if You aren't interested in a solo show about a man going mad for the love of a woman he's hardly spoken to.

Intense, Insane, Courageous

See it if you are a fan of the dark, existential school of Russian class warfare lit; would like to watch a man go quite crazy on stage

Don't see it if you have great sensitivity or PTSD around mental illness, delusions & insane asylums; expect a satisfying resolution

Masterful, Intelligent, Profound

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.

Also I gave it a higher score because of the actor. Gogol's work is too hea... Read more Read less

Cliched, Absorbing, Clever, Funny, Dizzying

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

Entertaining, Great acting, Frenetic, Intense

See it if You're looking for a masterful performance of a classic play

Don't see it if you don't enjoy solo shows or are disturbed by depictions of mental illness

Great acting, Intense, Absorbing

See it if The acting in this one man show was outstanding. A journey of one man into madness.

Don't see it if If you want to see something light, or are not a fan of one man shows.

Intelligent, Intense, Great acting

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.

Also Ilia Volok is an extraordinary performer.We experience his character's... Read more Read less

Frenetic, Intense, Dizzying, Great acting, Enthralling

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...

Also So, a good piece of the script is confusing and doesn't make sense? Ar... Read more Read less

Overrated, Intelligent, Dizzying, Intense

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!

Great acting, Quirky, Intense, Ilia volok does a great job.

See it if You enjoy a one person intense, riveting performance.

Don't see it if You prefer ensemble, light shows

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

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

Great acting, Confusing, Intense

See it if You enjoy really good acting and aren’t annoyed with a non linear plot.

Don't see it if You want a real story to follow rather than the rants of a madman

Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting

See it if you like dramatic one-man shows with a great actor.

Don't see it if you don't want to witness a man falling deeper into madness.

Also Excellent acting but I never felt emotionally involved with the charac... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Masterful, Quirky, Confusing

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.

Also I agree with the critic for th L.A. Times who noted the lead actor beg... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Edgy, 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.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Quirky

See it if you want to see great acting.

Don't see it if you're looking for something light or you're not a fan of one man shows.

January 23rd, 2018
"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 ...
read more
February 7th, 2018
"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 ...
read more
October 28th, 2017
"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 st...
read more
October 29th, 2017
"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 ...
read more

Related content

Cast & Creatives (4)