The Dream of A Ridiculous Man

An one-man adaptation of the Fyodor Dostoevsky short story of the same name, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man comes to the Marylebone Theatre stage with all the pertinent of its day: 1877 pre-revolutionary Russia.

For existential angst and spiritual becoming, this ridiculous man you will love

The story centres around a depressive protagonist moulded for contemporary UK audiences into a nihilistic bookshop-working hipster from Hackney. Our quintessential Londoner suffers all the trappings of capital life; the painful commute, the miserable weather, the senseless traffic, and, much like us all on a Thursday evening, is at the end of his rope.

Seeing only darkness, our suicidal man, played by the mercurial Greg Hicks goes from pub to pub in search of meaning before falling into a blissful dream.

After thirty minutes of pure existential misery in monologue form, utopia cannot come sooner. The faultless lighting, sound design and back-lit set, formerly monochrome and morose turn bright. Hicks’ character is flown off to a far-off island where – he is enlivened to find – that happiness is a basic human right and kindness and compassion are essential qualities of the peoples’ nature. From then on, we are bound to our dreamer’s fate, shuttled through the performance with movement and song to keep us guessing.

Trite though it may be for anyone who already believes in the redemptive qualities of kindness and love, for our main character it is a spiritual epiphany. However, just when we think our man has found redemption in waking life, we are met with a grievous truth.

We are told of how, through our man’s lustful actions, the dream’s paradise has turned sour, developing previously unknown notions of fear, jealousy and shame. With malice in their hurts, the islanders lose the innocence of universal love.

It is this parable that highlights how all lives have meaning, and our impact should not be underestimated. Our fearful, ashamed protagonist, in hating himself, brings hate into being. But through suffering, he learns. And the lesson, for him, is to start by loving what’s within.

If you tire of brooding philosophical works, Dostoevsky and this play will likely not appeal. But if you’re anything like me and love a bit of existential angst and spiritual becoming, then this ridiculous man you will love.

Reviews by Laura Tucker

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The Blurb

If there was one man in the whole world who knew how ridiculous I was - it was me.

On an uneventful Wednesday in a drab Borough of East London, an ordinary man has a startling revelation: life is an unhappy accident in a meaningless universe.

He gets himself a gun.

But before he can use it, he dreams of an innocent, alternative earth, where people live in harmony with nature and each other. Elated, he sets out to tell the world about his dream and share his new vision of a happy planet.

Dostoyevsky’s tragic-comic adventure is transported to 21st-century London in a one-person tale of wonder with an urgent warning for our world. A funny and serious story of hope, that with love and trust we can build a better world. Maybe.

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