Tag Archives: Harrison White



Marylebone Theatre

THE DREAM OF A RIDICULOUS MAN at the Marylebone Theatre


“a stark parable of hope for post-Covid Britain”

In these post-Covid years, one might very well question the merits of paying to see the monologic disillusionment of a lonely man played out on stage. Indeed, one would be forgiven for mistaking Laurence Boswell’s ‘The Dream of a Ridiculous Man’ (newly adapted for the Marylebone Theatre from Dostoyevsky’s novella of the same name) for advertising itself as doing just that.

Boswell puts his idea for the inception of the play down to long walks towards the end of the Covid pandemic. It was then that he began to contemplate Dostoyevsky’s story as having vital resonances to the peculiar cultural context of the post-pandemic years. This spurred his decision to transplant the play and its one-man protagonist, played by Greg Hicks, to the Hackney of the modern day.

The play begins with Hicks soliloquising upon a tale of life as a ‘meaningless accident in an indifferent and seemingly meaningless universe’. The account of this tale eventually brings him to the point of suicide, before he collapses into a sleep. As he sleeps he begins to dream of a surreal utopian world which comes to redefine his perspective on the realities of his own life. The volte face which plays out in Hicks’ mind brilliantly manifests itself in the intimate surroundings of the stage. Much of this effect hinges upon the dynamism and vitality of his performance, while its structure is underpinned by Boswell’s careful rendering of Dostoyevsky’s prose for performance.

Perhaps the only notable area where Boswell’s adaptation falls short lies in the, admittedly difficult, task of capturing the original text’s peculiarly risible quality. Translated literally, Dostoyevsky’s Russian title, Сон смешного человека, reads as ‘A Funny Man’s Dream’. Mikhail Bakhtin famously posited the story’s place as a model late 19th century example of Menippean satire, citing the ultimately playful undertone of the protagonist’s revelatory dream and the action which follows. Hicks’ performance lends itself more towards serious philosophical contemplation than the more surreal or farcical interpretations of the original, though this is not altogether to the diminution of the play’s dramatic effect.



Indeed, Hicks remains, necessarily, the sustaining force of the play, and moments of exposition or extended speech are deployed economically. Moreover, there is much to be said for the production’s remarkably deft means of expressing the philosophical pertinences of Dostoyevsky’s novella wordlessly. From the complementarily layered approach to costume (Caroline Stevens) and lighting (Ben Ormerod) to demarcate between the protagonist’s states of consciousness, to Gary Sefton’s similarly effective direction of Hicks’ movement and positioning on the stage. Each of these components works seamlessly to shift the production’s mise en scène and mood without slipping into ungainly segues in scene or prop changes.

The overarching potentiality of the production lies in the very fact that it tends ultimately not towards nihilism but hope. Indeed, the play presents an inversion of ‘nihilistic’ narratives reminiscent of its opening scene, such as Dürrenmatt’s ‘The Physicist’, or Büchner’s ‘Woyzeck’. Instead its plot centres upon a spiritual ascent from, rather than a psychological downward-spiral toward, an individual’s state of meaninglessness.

The combined efforts of Boswell and his creative team result in a set (Loren Elstein) of deft minimalism, capable of facilitating the play’s characteristically Dostoyevskian dialogue between themes of social realism and individual imagination. The result is a play which effectively expresses the principles of its inspiration. In Boswell’s programme notes, he writes of Dostoyevsky’s story as an homage to the human capacity to create stories. The play’s defining impetus lies in visually exploring the limits of this capacity. In doing so, it prompts a fundamental further contemplation, namely ‘that beyond thinking we might see’ different consciousnesses, and come to believe in bolder realities, than our own. Boswell has managed to repurpose Dostoyevsky’s original into a stark parable of hope for post-Covid Britain


THE DREAM OF A RIDICULOUS MAN at the Marylebone Theatre

Reviewed on 28th March 2024

by Flynn Hallman

Photography by Mark Senior




Previously reviewed at this venue:

A SHERLOCK CAROL | ★★★★ | November 2023
THE DRY HOUSE | ★★½ | April 2023



Click here to see our Recommended Shows page


Teddy – 5 Stars



Watermill Theatre

Reviewed – 15th January 2018


“a toe-tapping re-invention of the spirit of the era, interwoven with zippy and witty dialogue”


If, like me the music of the fifties is pretty much a closed book to you, but you’ve noticed the energy and appeal of classic numbers like ʽBlue Suede Shoes’ and ʽThat’ll be the Day’, then can I recommend a rocking show at the Watermill in Newbury which will really knock your socks off?

Dedicated fans of the music of the era should also go and see this compelling show, which is enthusiastically presented by a talented and vibrant young cast in the intimate and atmospheric old mill.

Described as ʽa story of teenage rebellion and the birth of a new musical era’, Teddy had its debut at the Southwark Playhouse in 2015 when it won Best New Musical at the Off West End Awards. It was written by Tristan Bernays with music by Dougal Irvine. In this fizzing revival, cast member Harrison White provides musical direction.

The show’s title refers both to the Teddy boys of the post-war era and to one of two central characters, who is named Teddy (George Parker). He and Molly Chesworth as Josie provide the dramatic focus for the piece, with the plot interweaving music and action provided by Andrew Gallo (drums), Freya Parks (bass guitar), Harrison White (lead guitar and keyboard) and Dylan Wood as the heart-throb vocalist Johnny Valentine.

The Teddy boys were Britain’s own response to American rock ʽn’ roll of the fifties. Their fashion style was inspired by a revival of Edwardian looks, and it was the Daily Express that first shortened the word Edwardian to Teddy.

But this show is more than just a nostalgia trip to the smoke-filled nightclubs and grim bomb sites of post-war London, with soundtrack to match. The music is a toe-tapping re-invention of the spirit of the era, interwoven with zippy and witty dialogue that has a real rhythmic poetry all of its own.

If Judy, the other name for the Teddy girls, was better known, ʽTeddy’ could almost be re-named after them, since it’s Molly Chesworth’s character that often takes centre stage. She and bassist Freya Parks have some witty riffs on the theme of women taking no nonsense from men.

An evocative split-level set-design by Max Dorey is complemented by moody lighting from Christopher Nairne. There’s a great dance number, and some brilliant music that will send you out humming. A great show not to miss.


Reviewed by David Woodward

Photography by Scott Rylander



Watermill Theatre Newbury until 10th February

ahead of UK tour



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