Few theatre producers would dare attempt a stage adaptation of the intense philosophical and psychological writings of Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Fewer still could pull it off.
Meet Bad New Days, a Toronto-based theatre company dedicated to originality, experimentation, and collaboration. From September 7th to 11th BND will be presenting their Dora Award-winning adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s The Double at the Hudson Village Theatre. Having already played at some of Canada’s most prestigious theatres, including Ottawa’s National Arts Centre and Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre, this production deftly proves that theatre can combine live music, physical comedy, and intellectual wit, all while maintaining success.
The Double centres on Golyadkin, an anxious and introspective government clerk who is pushed into deep psychological turmoil as he continually encounters a man who is his exact doppelganger, but with a gregarious persona. In a world where we continuously curate ourselves on social media, where a seemingly unstable economy and tumultuous political climate inflame insecurities about the future, The Double explores madness and the globalization of anxiety through one individual’s crisis of identity.
“I think what people really respond to in the piece is the sense of humour with the material. The material is funny itself, but it’s also very dark,” says Adam Paolozza, who holds roles as a co-creator, performer and director in The Double as well as being the founder of BND. “It’s a kind of comedic style that also incorporates Popular elements like vaudeville, musical theatre, and slapstick with a more serious dark theme.”
While Paolozza’s approach in creating The Double is to give his audience a laugh, he also hopes spectators will maintain a critical distance from what they’re watching. “I’m really interested in this idea of contemporaneity,” says Paolozza, borrowing a term from Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben. “On a very simple level it means that by being outside of the times, you maintain a little bit of a critical distance. And for me, it also means pursuing an aesthetic, or ethical, or formal element in your work without necessarily worrying about what’s in fashion, or what everyone else is doing.”
Paolozza’s directorial choices certainly reflect a uniqueness in design. Though The Double does incorporate Dostoyevsky’s text, Paolozza envisions a theatrical form where the text is not elevated over the other elements of a production. “I have started to refer to my work as a poetic theatre of gesture,” describes Paolozza. “It’s not that we don’t use the spoken word or text, but we use it in a democratic way with all the other elements, like light and rhythm.” This harmonious concept for design received high honours when the piece was nominated for seven Dora Awards, winning for Outstanding Lighting Design.
“I think people enjoy the energy of the company. I won’t speak for myself, but I’ll speak for my colleagues,” says Paolozza, referring to his multi-talented co-creators and performers, Arif Mirabdolbaghi and Viktor Lukawski, “They’re very charming and they give a lot in the work they do and for myself, at least, they’re a joy to watch.” Playing eight shows over four days, The Double is fueled by an intellectual wit that should not be missed!
The Double plays at Hudson Village Theatre from September 7th – 11th. Box office: (450) 458-5361.
Pictured above: Arif Mirabdolbaghi and Adam Paolozza in Bad New Days’ The Double playing at Hudson Village Theatre from Sept 7-11. Credit: Bad New Days.