Stage Russia HD (Theatre Art Studio): Sergey Zhenovach's adaptation of Nikolai
Erdman's comedy centers around a young, unemployed man desperate enough
to contemplate ending it all. As soon as he declares his will to die he finds
himself surrounded by a variety of characters begging him to kill himself as a
gesture for their cause. Flattered by this notoriety but panicked at the prospect
of actually having to go through with it, he must find a way out that somehow
leaves his dignity intact. Designer Alexander Borovsky’s walled-up stage with two
stories of raggedy doors allows for slapstick chases and gives Zhenovach the
opportunity to play entire scenes offstage, freeing it of realistic details and
keeping the focus on the characters and their predicaments. Once the production
builds up a head of steam, the laughs come fast and furious. The play, originally
written in 1928, forms a link in Russian literary history between the satirical
mastery of Nikolai Gogol and the post-World War II Theatre of the Absurd.
180 minutes (with one 15 minute intermission included)
In Russian with English subtitles
Please note: This is a screening of the recording of the performance and not a live event.
Michael Earley is a Professor of Drama and an Academic Adviser to Stage Russia. He was formerly Principal and Chief Executive Officer of Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance in Sidcup, London (2009-2017). He is also producer of the Upper Church at Summerhall performance space in Edinburgh, Scotland, which presents an ambitious season of productions for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.