The Gamblers


By Nikolai Gogol
Adapted by the director
Playhouse Square Center

"What is extraordinary here is the seamless ensemble performance Saidpour and his live-wire cast pull off. By having his actors appropriately stylize their performances, Saidpour animates Gogol's often humorous meditation on the craven, money-grabbing aspects of human nature. And in the process, the company conjures a taut and terrific stage experience…In perhaps the production's most sublime moment, director Saidpour choreographs a silent and seated blackjack ballet that captures the essence of a con in action."—Christine Howe, Scene Magazine

This speakeasy adaptation of Gogol's The Gamblers set in the contemporary American Midwest honed on the grotesquery and the psychology of human avarice.


The play opened in May 2008, just months before the scandalous fall of the housing market and the stock market crash. The actions of the production were stylized and carnivalesque: a merry farce descending into a horror.

Much of the set—the walls, the doors, and the curtains—were built with translucent material. Thus—through lighting—allowing the "camera" to penetrate behind the secretive walls of the gamblers' den.

Another scenographic device was repeated mimed entrances and exits of the gamblers through an underground elevator, symbolically portraying them as underworld creatures.

"A highly disciplined physical style of acting that results in hilarious moments of eavesdropping, repeated entrances via an elevator and a beautifully mimed blackjack scene."—Marc Bona, The Plain Dealer