• Comedy
  • By Howard Colyer
  • Director: Scott Le Crass
  • Cast: David Bromley
  • Omnibus, London
  • Until 30 October 2014
  • Time: 19.30 (Running time: 55mins)
  • Review by Oliver J Weinfeld
  • 29 October 2014
Diary Of A Madman
2.0Reviewer's Rating

Howard Colyer’s adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s 1930s short story Diary Of A Madman takes place in the quirky new Omnibus theatre space in Clapham’s old library. The venue has a pleasant vibe and feels like and interesting place to visit. Their mission statement is as follows;

“To create an iconic new destination for the arts in Lambeth that enriches the lives of a diverse range of local people”.

To set the scene: As in the book, this a one-man show focussing on a diary of increasingly ludicrous ramblings by the lowly clerk Poprischin. The set is notably basic – presumably due to the lack of a West End budget.

Admittedly the first half of the show is not overly exciting. Largely due to an over-reliance on recorded segments of Poprischin’s diary. This means the protagonist spends a lot of time sitting in silence, occasionally walking to a filing cabinet or scribbling something. In short, it’s pretty static. Recordings aside, the sound design is suitably unsettling. Although the repeated ‘mental hospital intercom’ announcements seemed a little heavy-handed.

However, the production shifts up a gear in the second half, which is far more entertaining – Poprischin’s behaviour becomes outlandish and dynamic; he leaps around the stage, delivers some very amusing lines and strips down to his pants. I enjoyed the absurdity of the semi-naked hero wrapped in a bed-sheet cloak with a paper crown.

The play also closes on a surprisingly sad note, I found myself feeling genuinely sorry for the institutionalised Poprischin.

David Bromley is clearly a good actor, and has the chance to demonstrate this during the latter scenes.

Diary Of  A Madman is entertaining, funny and easily accessible as it won’t cost you a king’s ransom. But my overall impression was less complete insanity and more Glenn’s infamous office meltdown in TV’s ‘The Thick Of It’.

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