His Majesty, The Devil
By Alexandra Devon
(Inspired by Dostoyevsky)
with music by Colin Pip Dixon
Directed by Mathilde Schennen
His Majesty, The Devil is a rare masterpiece inspired by the opus of Fedor Dostoevsky, one of the shrewdest and most prophetic psychologists who ever wrote. Devon, a keen reader of Dostoyevsky, has creatively transformed Ivan Karamazov, a nineteenth-century intellectual and writer, into a nameless underground man, a twentieth-century terrorist haunted by children’s suffering and metaphysical longing. She introduces us into the psychic world of our young hero on the night preceding his plot of destruction. Suffering from delirium and disillusionment, our terrorist is haunted by his conscience in the unlikely form of a shabby devil. MacIntyre Dixon, a flawless Dostoevskian devil – outmoded, banal, witty, derivative, exasperating, and intriguing – would almost steal the show with his superb performance were it not for the great surprise of the play: the fabulous music. Colin Pip Dixon, who plays the terrorist, also composed the play’s wonderful and unexpected music. After our young terrorist announces his plot of destruction, he pulls out of his case, not an AK 47 but a violin! Throughout the fabulous dialogue between the young terrorist and his demonic tormentor, the terrorist expresses his anguish, laughter, fears, and hopes with his music. Periodically he is joined by the Shadow, the excellent violist Arnaud Ghillebaert. Unlike the shabby devil and disheveled terrorist, the Shadow is dressed in well-appointed tails, a visual counterpoint that befits his musical counterpoint. Dixon’s music plays with, punctuates, enhances, and at times replaces, the dialogue. Mathilde Schennen expertly exploits the dramatic as well as the comic potential in the confrontation between the characters. She, too, knows her Dostoevsky, and provides her devil with a kitschy shopping cart decorated with cheap icons and baubles – a witty counterpoint to the personal, political, and metaphysical dialogue on stage.
His Majesty, The Devil is a unique and unforgettable theatrical experience. Like Dostoevsky, it makes us think and feel, hope and fear, laugh and weep. It is a must-see.
Deborah A. Martinsen
President, International Dostoevsky Society, 2007-2013