Alan Jordan at the Playhouse

By Lola Smith, photo by Foto Estudio San Miguel

Nikolai Gogol was a master dramatist, novelist, and short story writer. Considered one of the preeminent figures of the “realism” school of Russian literature, his later works, biting satires on political corruption in the Russian empire, are fueled with whimsical turns on romance, mixed with a sometimes grotesque surrealism, which show the horrors of being a small fish in a big pond.

Diary of a Madman
Nov 19, 20, 21, and 22
Nov 26, 27, 28, and 29
Thu, Fri, and Sat, 7pm
Sun, 3pm
San Miguel Playhouse
Independencia 82
US$15 or 200 pesos

The best example of Gogol at the height of his laser vision and cutting wit is his short story masterpiece, A Diary of a Madman. The tale centers on the life of a minor civil servant during the repressive era of Nicholas I. Middle-aged Poprishchin is stuck in a meaningless job in the vast governmental bureaucracy of mid 19th century Russia. His best prospects for advancement are far behind him, and his duties consist of routine tasks such as sharpening his employer’s quills or copying information from one departmental form to another. He is unmarried, bored, and treated without kindness or courtesy. The daily entries in his journal reveal a man slowly going mad as he comes to understand his own insignificance. The narrator is scorned by his landlady, reprimanded by his boss, and accosted by strangers in the street. Adding to his pressures are his rare glimpses of Sophie, his boss’s daughter. He indulges in obsessive thoughts of love and devotion toward her that are far out of proportion to her occasional and demeaning comments to him.

The story has been adapted for the stage several times, notably a production a few years back in New York starring Geoffrey Rush. And now, it’s been given new life by veteran actor/director Alan Jordan, in a production opening Thursday, November 19, at the beautiful San Miguel Playhouse. Mr. Jordan’s long career includes starring roles at New York’s Circle Repertory Company, Manhattan Theater Club, and Playwrights Horizon, as well as Canada’s Stratford Festival, Globe Theater, and St. Lawrence Centre. He toured the United States in national companies of the musicals Applause, Shenandoah, and 1776. Television and film credits include, “Hill Street Blues,” “Dallas,” “Falcon Crest,” “Knight Rider,” “Fall Guy,” “Friday 13th,” “The Young and the Restless,” and “Santa Barbara.” Mr. Jordan’s very successful productions of House and I Am My Own Wife both debuted in San Miguel de Allende before touring.

With a week of previews performed last March to get audience feedback, Diary of a Madman is leaner, meaner, yet still the same show that got rave reviews from audience members. “Superb!” “Remarkable!” “Phenomenal! A wonderful evening!” “Compelling and heartrending.”

Supported by set pieces designed by artist Juan Ezcurdia, and a musical landscape by Mikhail Glinka, Alan Jordan brings to life the masterful satire of bureaucracy, and one man’s descent into madness.

Audience members can easily purchase their reserved seats online at or at at the San Miguel Playhouse box office, Monday-Friday, 10am-2pm.


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