Theatre Review - The Dream of a Ridiculous Man

Greg Hicks in The Dream of a Ridiculous Man [Mark Senior]

IN The Dream of a Ridiculous Man, inspired by Dostoyevsky’s short story, Greg Hicks plays an unnamed character who suffers an existential crisis and decides to take his own life.

Adaptor Laurence Boswell, who also directs, relocates Dostoyevsky’s parable in contemporary east London and touches on climate change, the dangers of populism and the plight of refugees.

One night, on November 3, the man ignores a young girl’s pleas for help and returns home, intent on ending his meaningless life. Instead, he falls asleep and has a powerful dream about travelling to another Earth.

He arrives on an idyllic Greek island (“before tourism”), where the inhabitants, known as “the Children of the Sun”, exist in a sort of Utopia. They live in harmony with themselves and nature and give him a home, until he corrupts them by telling a lie.

The dream teaches the man about another way of living and he awakes profoundly changed, believing kindness and compassion are key to a better world.

He sets out to find the girl he shunned and to inspire others by sharing his story. He stands on street corners and in shopping malls, performing his “guerilla gigs”.

The stage is bare except for a large battered suitcase. Loren Elstein’s design, Ben Ormerod’s lighting and Gary Sefton’s sound beautifully conjure the man’s reality and dream world.

As a tale of hope and salvation it’s engaging but a little simplistic. The protagonist’s awakening is reminiscent of Scrooge’s redemption in A Christmas Carol and his transition from selfishness to enlightenment.

However, Hicks brilliantly inhabits the role of the “wise fool”, who becomes consumed by his vision for a better future, as well as playing the various characters he encounters on his redemptive journey from despair to hope.

Until April 20

Originally published by Camden New Journal