Theater Review: The Overcoat By Nikolai Gogol

Adapted by Shahar Pinkas; directed by Shir Goldberg Khan Theater, October 14.

By HELEN KAYE
October 20, 2013 22:16
1 minute read.
'The Overcoat' .

'The Overcoat' 370. (photo credit: Courtesy PR)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

The Overcoat does all the right things. Polina Adamov’s sort-of- 19th century, shoddy-on-purpose costumes signal indifference.

Shani Tur’s over-elaborate, marvelously wrought set pieces imply a concern more with things than people. The actors, except for Our Hero, flick robustly among their various roles.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


The story gets well told, but despite all these goodies there’s more style here than substance, as though director Goldberg has here concentrated more on the how and what than the why.

On the face of it, it’s a simple tale.

Akaky Akakievitch Bashmachkin, played by a too-frenetic Yoav Hyman, is a copy clerk in a vast bureaucracy who barely makes ends meet. His overcoat is so old that even the patches have patches. A new one will cost him 80 rubles, one-eyed Petrovich the Tailor (David Kigler) tells him. Where’s he going to get that kind of money? He scrimps, he saves, and then he gets a bonus.

Petrovich makes him a new overcoat, an overcoat to dazzle the eyes and the mind, with gold (well, gilt) buttons, a fur collar and cuffs. Then, on his way home from a party in honor of The Overcoat it’s wrested from him by thieves. His frantic efforts to enlist officialdom fail. What can he do but die? So he does.

Russians reading the story will grin, because in English, Akaky’s name transliterated means “Poop Poopson Stepped On.” But Gogol wasn’t being funny even though story and the play elicit laughter. The abyss is never far below the surface, and “the world has no place for entreaties,” a pawnbroker tells Akaky coldly.



Thoreau said that “the mass of men live lives of quiet desperation,” and Gogol intimates the same. That desperation, whether economic, emotional or spiritual, is the why, and must be the actors’ ballast.

Its presence in this Overcoat, however, is sporadic. It’s in Eddy Alterman’s clerk who’s deliciously, and comically, servile to the HRP (High Ranking Personage) and arrogant toward Akaky. It’s there for moments in the HRP (David Ben-Ze’ev), in Yael Toker as Akaky’s landlady, and in Kigler’s Petrovich – but moments are not enough.

This production, lacking heft, is hollow.

Related Content

Sarah Silverman
August 26, 2014
Jewish women take home gold at 2014 Emmys

By JTA