Life With An Idiot

Gate Theatre, Notting Hill, London

October 2001

An adaptation of Victor Erofeyev’s short story, transposed to a chic contemporary minimalist flat, the show follows the invasion of a couple’s life by an idiot which they must take into their home as punishment for a unnamed misdemeanour at the husband’s work.

The production employed a kind of coarse puppetry to explore the sexual anarchy and violence of Vova, the Idiot, who terrorises the couple and drives them apart, first seducing the wife, Masha and then the husband, ‘I’.

The perfectly white environment, created with an unnervingly low ceiling by the designer Fred Meller, was by the end of the piece desecrated by shit, blood and semen, represented by chocolate, tomato ketchup and porridge. Moving from its beginnings in a suffocatingly chic restraint, the production ends in murder, rape and necrophilia, and the committing of the husband to the lunatic asylum from which Vova was brought.

John Peter, The Sunday Times

This hilarious and terrifying piece. . .thrilling moments of physical theatre. An unmissable 80 minutes.

Michael Billington, The Guardian

Directed by Ben Harrison with the same panache he brought to last year’s outdoor hit Decky Does A Bronco. The presentation is outstanding. . .Harrison has created an impressive spectacle in which the household gods are pulverised.

Sarah Hemmings, Financial Times

this short, sharp shock of a play is staged with wit, brio and a great deal of mess by Ben Harrison.