Digital Oblomov

A digital companion to Ivan Goncharov's Oblomov

Son of Oblomov

A program for Son of Oblomov

In 1964 Frank Dulop produced a theatrical adaptation of Oblomov. The play opened at the Lyric Theater in London and starred comedian Spike Milligan as Oblomov. Milligan’s fans were surprised to learn that he would be playing a serious role.

The play, originally entitled Oblomov, was poorly received in its opening night. In the following performance, however, Milligan began to ad lib his role and turned the play into a comedy.

Pauline Scudamore, in her biography of Milligan, describes how the play changed from there: “The cast were bedevilled and shaken but they went along with him…Incredibly, the show began to resolve itself. The context changed completely. It was turned upside down and inside out. Cues and lines became irrelevant as Milligan verbally rewrote the play each night. By the end of the week, Oblomov had changed beyond recognition…. After Oblomov had run for a record-breaking five weeks at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, it was retitled Son of Oblomov and moved to the Comedy Theatre in the West End.”

The Voice of Russia adaptation

The Voice of Russia is a radio station that since 1929 has attempted promote Russian culture throughout the world. Today they broadcast to 160 countries in 38 languages.

In 2008 they created a two-part radio adaptation of Oblomov. You can listen or download the two parts here.

This clip features highlights of a staging of Mikhail Ugarov’s adaptation of Oblomov.

Writing for the Moscow Times, John Freedman comments on Ugarov’s vision: The generally accepted version is that Oblomov is a lazy ne’er-do-well who is incapable of taking part in life and so dies. Ugarov challenges the received wisdom and suggests that Oblomov is not lazy at all, but rather is a man who shuns the furious, empty activity and the vain customs of his day. He is no rebel by any means, but a person who exists outside, and independently, of fashion. He is a being who is whole unto himself and consequently is perceived as a freak by those who rely on the social machine to form their opinions and motivate their actions.”

BBC2’s Oblomov

George Wednt, Norm from Cheers, played Oblomov

In 1990, Paul Lee, now the president of ABC, traveled to Moscow to direct and produce an adaptation of Oblomov for BBC. The production starred Cheer’s start George Wendt and set Goncharov’s work to the era of Gorbachev. Paul Lee, in an interview to The Independent, explains that he “liked the idea of using the novel as an indictment of the apathy of the modern ruling classes, and to show the ways in which the Russian character has not changed despite 70 years of Communism.”