Akaky Akakyevitch (Peter Anderson) is a small, insignificant man who endures ridicule from his co-workers and performs tedious work copying legal papers. When he uses his life savings to ...
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Akaky Akakyevitch (Peter Anderson) is a small, insignificant man who endures ridicule from his co-workers and performs tedious work copying legal papers. When he uses his life savings to buy a custom made overcoat it changes his life, but also leads to tragedy.Written by
The Overcoat (aka The Cloak) is one of Gogol's most accessible stories, by the same writer who gave us The Inspector-General. There have been attempts at dramatizing it over the years, and Humphrey Searle even wrote an opera on it; but Morris Panych in Vancouver has created the version to top all others. The story is re-set in the west, in the 1920s, in an architect's office. There is no dialogue, only movement; more like mime than ballet- they claim to have taken their inspiration from silent movie technique. The story of the insignificant little clerk who achieves a fleeting moment of glory when he acquires a gorgeous new overcoat is too well known to need further explanation (alright then, read the book-it'll take you less than an hour). This version pads it out with a few scenes from Diary of a Madman; result- the apotheosis of the little guy. Check out the scene where Akaky (the hero) is going to sleep, and a strangely refined character (apparently the god of sleep) comes to charm him into slumberland. I saw one of the original performances at the Vancouver Playhouse a few years ago, and I knew that Panych & Co. and CBC Orchestra had pulled off something great; but the CBC "Opening Night" production adds a lot; it really makes you feel as if you are in a dream (or nightmare). I have been a big fan of Shostakovich and Gogol for aeons, and to have the two in bed together is almost too much. I suggest that this company should go on to do The Inspector-General and The Nose - they'd be perfect at it. Will they PLEASE release The Overcoat in the cinemas - it would be a thousand times better than what's there now. I assume it will be repeated on TV - we really need another opportunity to digest it all. Congrats to the dancers and the CBC Orchestra - Nazdorovye!!
PS The CBC has now released this on DVD, and you can get it at amazon.ca .
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