Review: The Double (TheatreRUN)

Adam Paolozza and Viktor Lukawski onstage at Toronto's Tarragon Theatre in The Double,

TheatreRUN’s remarkable adaptation of Dostoëvsky’s The Double is on stage at Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre

The Double, now onstage at Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre Extraspace, is an entirely engaging journey. It is based on Dostoëvsky’s novella of the same name, and is the story of one man’s descent into self-doubt and stark, raving madness.

A stroganoff of comedy, slapstick, mime, music humour and terror, The Double is a delicious play that you’ll find yourself immersed in. It’s comprised of two different acts. During intermission you’ll likely be tweeting great things about it and inviting friends while the second course is being prepared.

Played by Adam Paolozza, main character Yakov Golyadkin is a meek office clerk, losing his identity in the corporate world of 19th century Russia. He spends money he doesn’t have, pays for food he doesn’t eat, sees himself everywhere and works alongside his double, also named Yakov Golyadkin. Confused? Well so is Golyadkin!

Viktor Lukawski plays the alternate Golyadkin. His doppelganger is the more remarkable and charismatic, the corporate climbing scoundrel that bosses seem to love. Lukawski successfully plays many roles, slipping between them seamlessly. It’s fascinating on many levels, both technically and artistically. His performance in particular reminded me of the magic that VideoCab creates.

I was also reminded of Kids in the Hall at times and the Marx Brothers. Someone beside me whispered the name Chaplin. It’s no mistake to think of The Double in the same league as those icons. They create characters that are very different from us, like nothing we’ve seen before. At the same time, in the hands of great performers like Charlie, Groucho or the three men in The Double, there is something intrinsic, identifiable and universal we can all identify with. It’s rare and remarkable.

André du Toit’s lighting is absolutely remarkable. It comes as no surprise that he won a Dora Award for his lighting of a previous mounting of this intriguing play. The Double is the perfect play to see while it is autumn in Ontario. The lack of light, long, eerie shadows and blindingly beautiful sunrises that we enjoy in October and November are a mere opening act for this amazing play.

The Double is the brainchild of lookalike artists Adam Paolozza and Arif Mirabdolbaghi (narrator). The two bearded men “composed” this remarkable adaptation of Dostoëvsky’s early work while brainstorming potential artistic collaborations. Maybe it’s awkward to consider a play as being composed, but The Double really does resemble real estate occupied by Pete Townshend’s Tommy or Quadrophenia.

Mirabdolbaghi plays double bass while narrating, creating a full range of emotions with sound. He moves the play along at a frenetic yet highly engaging pace, flirting with his instrument and the audience while “mingling with actors Paolozza and Viktor Lukawski. The sound of his double bass is extraordinarily rich and human, something computer chips are yet to duplicate.

Mirabdolbaghi’s day job is with progressive metal band Protest the Hero, so I really hope he continues to “moonlight”.  After seeing The Double, the double bass is on equal footing with the cello as my favourite instrument.

The two acts are quite different. I enjoyed the first more than the second, but I am sure I was in the minority. The second is more cabaret, and includes a captivating mime sequence and a medley that would make James Last deliriously happy. It even includes a snippet of a song by comrade Townshend, so c’mon get happy!

Seating is limited, so make plans to see The Double on the double!


  • The Double plays Tarragon Theatre Extraspace (40 Bridgeman Avenue, near Bathurst and Dupont) through November 24th, 2013.
  • Tickets are $21-$53  (including discounts for students,  seniors and groups)
    $13 Rush Tickets available at the door for Fridays (on sale at 6pm) & Sundays (on sale at 1pm) starting Oct. 25.
  • Performances run nightly Tuesday through Saturday at 8 PM. Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:30 PM.
  • Tickets can be purchased through the box office at 416.531.1827 or

Photograph of Adam Paolozza and Viktor Lukawski by Lacey Creighton