Academy, Emmy, and Tony Award winner Geoffrey Rush (Exit the King, Broadway) comes spectacularly unglued as the lowly civil servant Poprischin, driven mad by bureaucracy in Nikolai Gogol's darkly comic short story The Diary of a Madman, adapted for the stage by the astute director Neil Armfield and Australia's adventurous Belvoir (Cloudstreet, 2001 Next Wave; Exit the King, Sydney's Belvoir St Theatre).
A burnt-out paper-pusher who ekes out a meager living in czarist St. Petersburg, Poprischin spends his days doing menial tasks, anxious and teetering on the brink of lunacy. Or is it lucidity? Immobilized by a rigid social hierarchy, Poprischin cuts adrift from reality: hallucinating a canine love affair, imagining himself well above his station, and conjuring entire realms both incredible and terrifying. Deeper and deeper he sinks into delusion, and--thanks to Rush's astonishing performance--we, too, are eventually subsumed by a world in which reality is, at best, relative.