THE OVERCOAT created and directed by Morris Panych and Wendy Gorling (CanStage). At the Bluma Appel (27 Front East). To March 10. $20-$95. 416-368-3110. Rating: NNNNN Rating: NNNNN
If you missed the overcoat during its previous two showings at CanStage'sBluma Appel, you must try it on now. Morris Panych and Wendy Gorling'smovement-based adaptation of the Nikolai Gogol story looks as good asever. In a decade of professional theatregoing, it's easily one of thebest productions I've seen.
The inimitable clown Peter Anderson returns as the Man, the bumblingoffice worker whose uneventful, loveless life gets turned upside down whenhe counts his kopecks and upgrades his threadbare rag of an overcoat for afancy purple number, eliciting the envy of his co-workers and impressinghis superiors.
Clothes make the man, and then undo him.
Each scene is a marvel of storytelling efficiency, the characters movingaround Ken MacDonald's dazzling, expressionist set like first-rate playersin a silent movie. Nancy Bryant's costumes are full of texture and richwith symbols; look how the Man's libidinous, drunken landlady (TraceyFerencz) resembles a walking, lusting Egon Schiele portrait.Dmitri Shostakovich's music, cobbled together from his works, underscoresthe plot's comings and goings with equal parts blustering bravado andpoignancy.
Each second of the show has been so well choreographed that it's hard tosingle out any scene. One astonishing moment, though, comes when abureaucrat maniacally rips up a report and lets the paper fall down,precipitating a little snowfall to cover the distraught, coatless protagonist.Theatre doesn't get any better than this.