Notes from Underground at The Print Room
The collaborative creation of Gerald Garutti and Harry Lloyd, based on Fyodor Dostoyevskys’ text from the 1800s, this piece touches on the broad range of existential paradoxes on which Dostoyevsky was fixated. Having been previewed and performed in only three small Parisian venues, Notes from Underground is the debut play of The Print Room at the Coronet.
The set carried a literary theme; books cobbled the stage floor and a luminous half moon of a backdrop was plastered in pages and pages of yellowing parchment covered in scribbled writing. A beaten-up armchair with a large standing lamp occupied the centre of the small stage. Three sides of arena-style seating, and the modest sum of the set’s elements, made for the successful creation of the feeling that the audience had been granted admittance to the privacy of the underground protagonist. Original and creative use of minimal lighting and sound accompaniment just enhanced the atmosphere in the performance space that extra mile.
Unkempt, moth-eaten and greasy, with a sweat-stained shirt, crumpled trousers and general disheveled appearance was convincingly accurate a costume for such a brilliantly, not-quite-sane, not-quite-mad man.
Steeped in philosophical minutiae and the large haunting questions of man’s existence, desires and pleasures, Notes from Underground walks the tenuous path between genius and insanity. Unpacking the consequences of a seemingly unending sentence of solitude, Lloyd displays great skill in enlivening a dense and wordy monologue. With excellent diction and varying rhythmic delivery, his energy in moments of loud enragement and dampened spiteful growling was appropriate and engaging to behold. Lloyd is charismatic from the beginning, and his more humorous moments have unmistakable echoes of influence from the like of Rik Mayall, and Rowan Atkinson in Blackadder.
It has a roundabout theme more than a narrative, with recounted sketches of “over-philosophising” and calamitous occasions of social interaction for Lloyd’s character. A highly enjoyable and complex piece formed from rich language, this rendering of Notes from Underground is a play of unusual pleasure.
Notes from Underground is on at The Print Room until 1st November 2014, for further information or to book visit here.