Thursday 26th to Saturday 28th February and Monday 2nd to Saturday 7th March 1987
Directed by Jo German
A Russian black comedy of the twenties, banned by Stalin, 'The Suicide' satirises the plight of an unemployed man, desperate enough to contemplate ending it all, until he is besieged by a host of discontented characters begging him to kill himself as a gesture for their cause. "Only dead men say what the living think".
'The Suicide' was written in 1928 but its performance was forbidden during the Stalinist era and it was only produced in Russia several years after the Erdman's death. Today it is regarded as one of the finest plays to have come out of Communist Russia. The plot centres around a young, unemployed man, Semyon, who believes the answer to his problems is to learn to play the tuba. However, his plan fails and he contemplates suicide. His neighbour, Alexander, decides to make money from Semyon's misery by exploiting his intended suicide to several bidders. These bidders planned to exploit Semyon's death to the furtherance of their own individual cause. The Intelligentsia, represented by Aristarch, is the first to approach him. From this point on, Semyon finds himself being manipulated by various people representing the business world, the arts, the workers, romance, etc. During the course of the play, each character reveals the worst side of their personality.
This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.
|Semyon Podsekalnikov||Pete Woodward|
|Maria Podsekalnikova||Jude Salmon|
|Serafima Ilinichna||Janet Simpson|
|Margarita Peryesvetova||Ruth Prior|
|Alexander Kalabushkin||Peter Holding|
|Aristarch Golashchapov||David Penrose|
|Cleopatra Maximovna||Lezley Picton|
|Egor Timovyeyevich||Russell Lockwood|
|Nikifor Pugachov||Terry Cattermole|
|Viktor Viktorovich||Damon Wakelin|
|Father Elpidi||David Hemsley-Brown|
|Raissa Filipovna||Jane Hemsley-Brown|
|Boy, Kostya, 2nd Individual||Alan Jenkins|
|Ivan Peryesvetov, 1st Individual||Richard Stacey|
|Zinka, Milliner||Robbie Cattermole|
|Groonya, Dressmaker||Cerys Hogg|
|Deacon, Oleg Leonidovich||Vincent Adams|
|Coffin Bearer||Stephen Evans|
|Coffin Bearer||Pete Codd|
|Stage Manager||Janice Bell|
|Assistant Stage Manager||Pete Codd|
|Lighting Design||Jacquie Penrose|
|Lighting Operation||Daniel Shires|
|Set Design||David Penrose|
|Set Construction||Pete Codd |
|Front of House||Belinda Egginton|
|Poster Design||Charles Payne|
A Russian black comedy of the twenties, 'The Suicide' satirises the plight of an unemployed man, desperate enough to contemplate ending it all. The play considers the nature of humour; the hearts of the self-centred characters who will use anyone to further their own selfish aims; and the triumph of the individual, who keeps his dignity in a society where the slogan "for each and all" echoes emptily. For Semyon, only the prospect of death can give the individual the freedom to act and speak as he wishes
All that, and it is still a very funny play.
"To sue to live, I find I seek to die
and seeking death, find life: let it come on."
'Measure for Measure', W SHAKESPEARE
Suicide is usually no laughing matter, but members of the Bench Theatre had 'em rolling in the aisles with their performance of Nikolai Erdman's black comedy at the Havant Arts Centre.
Banned in the author's homeland, Russia, because of its blatant attack on the Soviet system, 'The Suicide' is full of spleen and sarcasm for the Reds who won't help themselves live with the revolution. Finding comedy where few have gone before or since, Erdman sets up an unemployed man, Semyon, to kill himself. He is beset by lily-livered representatives from the world of business, art, philosophy, passion and the working class, all too scared to speak out themselves, but who each want Semyon to die a martyr on their behalf.
The stage is populated by stereotypes: a northern businessman; a vamp and less than pious clergyman, among other, which are admirably created by the cast. Pete Woodward and Jude Salmon shine in the leading roles. 'The Suicide' can be seen until Saturday, March 7.
The News, Friday 27th February 1987