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The Overcoat

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
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The Overcoat sees Gogol's 1842 short story of the life of a meek government clerk brought up to date, relocating the action to the offices of an Edinburgh-based multi-national bank, introducing a love interest for the hero, Akaky McAky, and turning the story into a condemnation of Western capitalism.

The cast present Akaky's tale with admirable energy, each actor taking on a wide range of characters over the 50 years or so that pass between his unremarkable birth and ignominious death. But energy alone is not enough to make this piece's clichéd characters, formulaic plotting and lazy, undercooked humour enjoyable, or even really watchable.

The Overcoat calls itself as “a deeply acerbic and irresistibly funny satire”, yet offers nothing but the broadest and most simplistic of swipes at bankers, contenting itself for the most part with tired gags about the habits of oligarchs and climaxing in a bizarre rap about the economy.

In the last 10 minutes of the show, there's a stab made at a serious message, with the tedious, overplayed humour of the rest of the show thankfully laid to one side. After holding his tongue for almost the entirety of the play, Billy Mack, who plays Akaky, ultimately speaks up to offer a sensitive portrayal of a lonely man for whom nothing has ever gone right. At this point, however, it's too little too late and the change of tone, rather than providing a neat contrast to the high spirits of the majority of the show, as was presumably intended, is simply jarring and makes the show drag to a disatisfying close.


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