Journey of the Fifth Horse [1966]

Dustin Hoffman gives an amazing early performance in this drama about the "superfluous" man. Hoffman plays Zoditch, a reader in a publishing house, who has a humiliating job, a squalid apartment, and grandiose fantasies. He is assigned to read the diary of a dead man, whose story begins to weave with Zoditch's own life. The play makes good use of double casting, as Zoditch imagines people from his own life as characters in the diary. Though a few of the performances in this adapted play still feel stagy, the production is visually playful--at one point a hand winding an elegant pocket watch cross-fades into a hand churning a meat grinder. The play's message is satisfyingly complex; though Zoditch is routinely humiliated, he is far from blameless in the matter. This is a fascinating play, at once about the way people and events intertwine as well as the failure to connect. --Ali Davis

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