The Double by Dostoevsky, adapted and directed by Laurence Boswell Ustinov Studio, Bath

It is without question that Laurence Boswell has in a relatively short term put The Ustinov Studio firmly on the map for work of great quality and innovation; in taking the reins as director for this final production of the 2012 season once again the boundaries are pushed further and the expertise of his skill evident for all to share.

This is an intriguing if slightly bizarre play, given that it deals with paranoia and the deep terror of a disturbed mind and with that it is hard to see the main protagonist as the “hero” the narrative proclaims him as and not a victim of his deep struggle.

The main protagonist Mr. Goliadkin, a compelling and hugely impressive central performance from Simon Scardifield goes to work one day to find his double alongside him, the trouble escalates and the fallout of what to do when your double is better and more popular than yourself is then played out to great effect.

Using puppetry and the skill of the small company endlessly switching roles the story unfolds; Rob Edwards leads as The Storyteller, he works through the lengthy pieces of narrative keeping the pace and colour of the language alive with ease. These moments are interspersed with great cameo roles; particularly from Sean Murray they are light relief allowing some engagement with the characters that surround Goliadkin’s life.

The design from Ti Green with lighting from Ben Ormerod is highly atmospheric; and the meticulous timing of direction and musical composition extraordinary.

This is a piece set to challenge and indeed it does, there is a voyeuristic feeling to it all as there is so much narrative and little dialogue exchange, the extended conversations that Scardifield has with the audience are compelling and reflects the more tragic elements of his battle.

Boswell has again put together a great season with huge contrast; 2013 is awaited with great anticipation.