Play of the week (08/12/12): The Double, Theatre Royal, Bath


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The Independent Culture

How would you react if someone stole your life? That's the question posed in Laurence Boswell's Dostoevsky adaptation. Mr Goliadkin is an everyman working in a government office.

But one day another Mr Goliadkin turns up, who looks the same but is sharper, more ruthless. It's not long before Mr Goliadkin has been usurped from his job, banished from society and replaced in the affections of the woman he loves.

The brilliance of the story is that we are never sure how much of it is in the protagonist's mind, a confusion Boswell plays on by using heightened theatricality to test how far the audience will suspend its disbelief – or delude itself. The complex web of characters is explained elegantly through puppets operated by a versatile cast, but the charming puppetry becomes more sinister with the portrayal of the doppelgänger: as Goliadkin (Simon Scardifield) goes to sleep, a wooden arm creeps on to his knee… Haunting, funny and thoughtful.

(01225 448844; to 22 Dec