The Double is an intriguing and ambiguous work which lends itself to multiple interpretations. The success of Richard Ayoade's recent film adaptation of Dostoevsky's original novella published in 1846 showed its resonance with modern audiences.
Last night's thrilling production was wittily updated by director Ameilia Gabaldoni. Using only a black and white palate in the simplified set and costume evoked a bleak, unsettling world.
The problem for The Original (excellent Patrick Orme) was a recognisable identity. As Jacob Golyadkin, he has worked in an office for seven years, with colleague Peter. He is in love with his boss's daughter Klara (feisty Chloe Jones) and in awe of his statuesque boss (John Berry). He has no natural authority, is cheeked by the Receptionist (comedic Elaine Robertson) and the butt of jokes from the Clerks (Esme Saunders and Laura Plumley).
The Original seems in a state of perpetual anxiety and mental agitation, and his doctor urges him to get out a bit and have some fun – advice The Original rejects.
Worse than humiliation comes eventual annihilation when The Original's doppelgänger re-emerges to stand beside him in the darkness, and to never leave. Confident, brash and lascivious, Marcus Knight-Adams' Double scores a hat trick: girl, boss and identity are all subsumed into his rapacious maw – leaving The Original friendless, jobless and eventually – wiped out.
Superb, dark and provocative: James Tibbles' production delivered it all. The final scene haunts still.