Notes from Underground
From a novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Adapted by Andrew Litzky, Bill Peters, Zoë Inman,
Llysa Holland and Rachel Katz Carey
Cinema (Adelaide University), Fringe Hub
25th February 2004
Presented by Theatre Simple
Directed by Bill Peters
"Having too much consciousness is a disease!" the Underground Man declares, leaving the audience to contemplate what this means; is the mind of the Underground Man diseased? Is his speech the insane ramblings of a paranoid schizophrenic, or the commentary of an eccentric and often insecure social analyst? The audience encounters evidence in Notes from Underground to confirm both arguments, and ultimately, the choice is left to the individual and their perception of the character.
Notes from Underground is an angst-filled solo performance piece adapted from Fyodor Dostoevsky's classic 19th century novel of the same name. Andrew Litzky portrays the misanthropic, self-loathing Underground Man, who craves, yet at the same time fears, intimacy and attention. The Underground Man is a confusing character because of his numerous contradictory convictions and emotions; he will talk of how he loathes himself, "I am a sick man, I'm an evil man", and how he is nothing, "a mouse", yet, paradoxically he feels that everyone is beneath him. Litzky depicts the complex Underground Man with the appropriate amount of anger and spite that causes him not only to retreat from the outside world and its inhabitants, but also to indirectly blame his retreat on society. He rants about the exaggerated and imagined slights that people have made against him, how he hates society's conventions because they inspire rank and why, if civilised men are seemingly so gentle, "blood runs in rivers?"
Litzky's performance is central to the play's success; he gives the Underground Man a brain, a heart and a soul, when it would be so easy just to condemn and portray him as a lunatic. He makes the "intensely...