THE DOUBLE adapted from Dostoevsky and performed by Adam Paolozza, Arif Mirabdolbaghi and Viktor Lukawaski. Presented by TheatreRUN at the Factory Studio (125 Bathurst). Previews from Thursday (February 2), opens Friday (February 3) and runs to February 19, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2 pm. $20-$28, preview and Sunday pwyc. 416-504-9971.
Ever think you've seen someone who looked like you in a crowd?
The situation's much worse for the central character in Dostoevsky's novella The Double, hounded by a version of himself who takes over his life.
TheatreRUN's Adam Paolozza, collaborating with musician Arif Mirabdolbaghi (progressive rock band Protest the Hero) and actor Viktor Lukawski, has created a stage version of the tale, blending physical theatre, mime and music.
"Arif and I grew up in the same town, our sisters are best friends, and we knew we wanted to create a music/theatre piece together," recalls Paolozza, whose company co-produced the award-winning Spent.
Three years ago, the two were looking for projects and, after several bottles of beer, realized that with beards, they looked alike.
"He's a Dostoevsky fan," says Paolozza, "and The Double was put on the table."
In the original, minor government official Golyadkin finds himself haunted by a lookalike who literally invades his home and workplace.
"It's an atmospheric and detailed account of a mild-mannered guy losing his grip on reality, so rhythmical and detailed that it lends itself to the interplay between music and movement that we wanted to explore."
After doing a 20-minute version as part of Theatre Passe Muraille's Buzz, Paolozza and Mirabdolbaghi have added Lukawski, a Jacques Lecoq graduate like Paolozza, to the cast, which allows for... well, more doubling.
"Our concept is to stream Dostoevsky through the lens of music hall or vaudeville, using the kind of slapstick and physical comedy we played with in Spent.
"Audiences are going to be surprised how much humour there is in this early Dostoevsky work. We think of the show as a comic thriller, spooky and funny."
Mirabdolbaghi functions as both musician and narrator. By happy coincidence, he plays the double bass, which - in addition to echoing the show's title - functions as an instrument as well as a character: its sweeping curves suggest the female form.
"That slinky nature lends itself to movement," notes the musician, "a way of punctuating the gestures of the actors. And the double bass at times sounds funny on its own."
"What we've tried to do is mine all the resources of the double bass, its shape as well as its musicality and timbre," adds Paolozza. "It's a sometimes awkward-looking instrument that becomes linked with an awkward character.
"The double bass is rarely in the spotlight, and the same is true of Dostoevsky's story. We're giving them both centre stage."