Thursday, October 24, 2013

Review: (Toronto) The Double

Adam Paolozza, Viktor Likawski (photo by Lacey Creighton)

Move over Gollum, there’s a new neurotic in town. 
by Keely Kwok 

It’s almost the end of Act Two. The bass picks up the pace, a lively tune, and Viktor Lukawski (as one of the many caricatures he plays) yanks a vintage microphone from the wings. “What’s this doing here?” he wonders with a chuckle and some doo-wop pizzazz. 

Then he announces what we’ve all been waiting for: Golyadkin and his Double Act! 
Oh he couldn’t possibly, it would be indecent! Wait, yes he can. No really, he shouldn’t. Forget it, give him the mic! And a confident Golydkin (Adam Paolozza) breaks out into song accompanied by musical genius, Arif Mirabdolbaghi, on the double bass. Golydkin cleverly changes the lyrics to classic tunes like “Just the Two of Us” and “Man in the Mirror” to make light of he, himself and well, himself. It’s little contemporary touches like this that make The Double feel so fresh. 

The Double, based on the novella by Fyodor Dostoevsky, is an exploration into humanity’s fear of alienation, loss of identity, and the very fragility of it all. Or it would be if you weren’t so preoccupied watching the comedic physicality of Paolozza and Lukawski at play with the incredible, original compositions of Mirabdolbaghi. 

Paolozza is both charismatic and pathetic in the best way possible. He effortlessly springs back and forth between a sniveling clerk and his suave, debonair doppelganger. But is it a doppelganger? Or is the 'other' merely a figment of Golyadkin’s imagination? Stay tuned. Paolozza, who studied corporeal mime with the Decroux company Intrepido in Paris, is tireless in his performance. He takes the simple act of miming a carriage ride and running against the wind and gives it a comedic twist. And that goes for the other performers as well. Lukawski is hilarious in all his different roles and can become another person at the drop of a hat. Literally. The energy and physicality is brilliant. Sure, at times the slapstick humour feels a little overindulgent, but they are committed to the delivery. And it does help that they crash and burn that fourth wall by calling themselves out on what they’re doing. 

And the music! It’s what propels the story (I’m using that term loosely) forward. The narrator and his instrument set the tone and pace. He even controls Goyladkin’s very movements, which is amusing yet oddly unsettling to watch. The music, in collaboration with the phenomenally inventive lighting design by Andre du Toit, make for a sensational sensory experience. 

The Double, a Dora Award recipient, is an innovative and modern re-imaging. It combines music, mime, and charm and keeps you laughing to the very end. 

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