“Suicide: A Russian Comedy,” written by Nikolai Erdman in the 1920s and banned by Stalin, is relevant to modern societies, especially at this time of economic crisis. What starts with a simple argument concerning some leftover sausage ends with unemployed Semyon Semyonovich declaring that he will kill himself in order to end his financial problems. Semyon quickly finds that death does not come easy. He is petitioned by many groups who see his suicide as a commodity and want him to dedicate his death to their causes such as art, love, the environment, and more handicap accessible buildings.
So what cause will he choose? And will he live or die?
The production is a bilingual Russian-English musical adaptation of the famous 1928 comedy by Nikolai Erdman (1902-1970). Despite claims by major Russian theater directors Meyerhold and Stanislavsky that Erdman’s piece was a work of genius, Erdman’s original play was never staged in Soviet Russia. Stalin did not like the play and sent its author to Siberia. Now we see this comedy staged by our UO Russian through Theater course with the help of faculty, Russian community members, and several academic units at the UO.