THE OVERCOAT
a theatrical adaptation of Nikolai Gogol's humourous and touching tale.

The Overcoat (1998)

 

The Overcoat is a theatrical adaptation of Nikolai Gogol's humourous and touching tale. It tells of a lonely clerk and the effect a new coat has on his life. Theatre du Pif first presented The Overcoat in 1998.
 

The Overcoat 2001 Community Production

Theatre du Pif collaborated with Edinburgh based arts groups, Whale Arts Agency and Moving Parts Theatre Company to devise and direct a community theatre production of The Overcoat.

The production was performed at the Whale Arts Centre in April 2001 and later at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival August 2001 where it received 5 stars reviews and critical acclaim.

 

The Overcoat (2004, 2007)

In 2004 the company revived the production in Hong Kong with a new cast made up of local actors. It was sold out at the Fringe Club for seven consecutive nights and as a result was commissioned by the Hong Kong Leisure and Cultural Services Department to re-run at the Sha Tin Town Hall where once again 'Sold Out' notices were posted. In 2007, the show re-ran again Hong Kong and Singapore. ​

 

The Overcoat School Tour (2015)

In Autumn 2015 the Company toured a new production of The Overcoat in schools, community centers and outdoor spaces in Hong Kong.  

Awards

Five star reviews and was nominated as the CRITICS CHOICE at 2001 Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Critics

"Where others have failed, The Overcoat truly pays homage to the Fringe's international character. When the fat lady sings, this is neither a Russian play, nor a Scottish production. It is a wonderful synthesis of the two."

"A wonderful production, The Overcoat truly pays homage to the Fringe's international character."
Matt Warren, The Scotsman Theatre Critic

 

"a joyful, uninhibited production"
Edith Terry, South China Morning Post

 

"Where others have failed, The Overcoat truly pays homage to the Fringe's international character. When the fat lady sings, this is neither a Russian play, nor a Scottish production. It is a wonderful synthesis of the two."
Matt Warren, The Scotsman, 12 Aug 2001

Touring/Extended Performances 

Oct-Nov 2015

A new adaption for school tour

Feb 2007

Drama Centre, Singapore (Re-run)

Jan 2007

Hong Kong Fringe Club (Re-run)

Sep 2004

Sha Tin Town Hall (Re-run)

Feb-Mar 2004

Hong Kong Fringe Club (Re-run)

Aug 2001

A community theatre production at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

May-Jun 1998

Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Studio Theatre

Team

Devisers

Bonni Chan, Sean Curran

Dramaturg

Stella Kao (1998)

Director

Bonni Chan

Performers (1998)

Sean Curran, Victor Pang, Jacob Chan, Bonni Chan, Wilson Chik 

Performers (2004)

Sean Curran, Hofan Chau, Peter Jordan, Lee Kar-fai, Candice Moore, Victor Pang, Thomas Tse,
Adrian Yeung

Performers (2007)

Sean Curran, Hofan Chau, Lee Chun-chow, Lee Kar-fai, Leung Hiu-tuen, Victor Pang, Adrian Yeung,
Mandy Yiu

Performers (2015)

Sean Curran, Anne Tam, Karen Chan, Dorothy Chu, Tomas Tse, Luke Lai

Visual & Graphic Designer

Sylvia Chan (1998 & 2004)

Costume Designer

Cheng Man-wing (1998, 2004 & 2007)

Lighting Designer

Gabriel Fung Kwok-kee (1998),
Lau Ming-hang (2004 &2007)

Sound & Music Designer

Wong Sun-keung (1998)

Director and Dramaturg's programme notes:

 

Ingredients to the square dream. The inspiration to work together probably came through the many times that we've eaten together. Such a simple thing, the need to eat bringing us to work together.

 

Let us take you down the Nevsky Prospect, St Petersburg's boulevard of fantastic delights. You will meet wonderful moustaches which no pen could describe and no paint brush depict. But beware! For at night a ghost is lurking, ready to snatch your coat...... (Inspired by the works of Gogol and Dostoevsky)

 

While preparing for the production, we came across a letter that Gogol wrote to his mother asking for help to pay for his monthly expenditures.

Rent 

Water carries 

Table 

one pair gloves 

Firewood 

Two handkerchiefs 

Sugar, tea, bread 

Cab, barber, etc 

Candles 

Public baths

25

2

25

3

7

2

20

5

3

1.5

How could we be able to convey this in our production, that so many important needs in life are just so simple? When nothing in fact is that simple. The clerks: with a job that no one could possibly be good at, because it's so 'simple'. They are unlikely but yet common heroes. They are part of life's most unromantic characteristics.

 

There is Akaky, 'hero' of Gogol's The Overcoat, who was able to fit his life within those very frames, and to enjoy the flatness of its very surface of just eating, sleeping and copying. The only 'but...' in his life came from the fearful consequences of his desiring for more.

 

But, we found that for the many clerks in Dostoevsky's stories, who spun webs of parody, deceit, fantasy, and glory with indigestible potions of quietude and angst; saw themselves in the street lamp reproduced in doubles, and multiples of three and fours; yet, still searching for some kind of inner 'truth', they touched us in a different way from Akaky. 

 

Later, revisiting these stories in Berman's essays on Petersburg, we touch upon another link running through our lives and theirs.  We learn of the king who built St Petersburg overnight by bringing in people from the entire country. Using sweat and blood, they created for him an 'expensive' city. A city that seeks. It searches outwardly by looking to expand and compresses inwardly through geometric orderliness.  City streets that are windows to the city itself as they are windows to the world.


People coming to the city. A city reproducing other cities, but sought to be even more perfect. How do we live its spaces? Inhabit its streets? On Nevsky Prospect, are they clerks and other casts of characters who are living a king's dream? Made-to-order people or misfits?
Eating and working together, we've dipped into an amazingly rich feast: so many stories, each paying tribute to one another, all replaying the Petersburg legend and the legend of the cities in so many different ways: Gogol's The Overcoat, The Nose, Nevsky Prospect, Biely's St Petersburg, Dostoevsky's Notes from the Underground, The Double, The Landlady, White Nights...... Pushkin's The Bronze Horseman, and Berman's All That is Solid Melts Into Air.

Hence, from Gogol, to Dostoevsky, and then to the city in which the stories took place, and to the cities of our lives......; we will continue to explore - with the performers and the rest of the production team - this dream of a city that simply refuses to be just square.

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