Semyon Semyonovich Podsikalnikov is unemployed; and more than that, he is desperate. His wife MashaΆs mistaken belief that Semyon has decided to kill himself sets in motion a relentless comic mechanism and a series of convulsively funny set-pieces. The news of SemyonΆs imminent suicide spreads like wildfire, but without his knowledge. An intellectual, a priest, a merchant, and a writer are just some of the army of people trying to persuade the bewildered Semyon to put an end to his life, each for their own reasons.
This explosively powerful play is about social hypocrisy, censorship, but also the exploitation of death itself. The Suicide, written in 1928, is in the great tradition of Russian comedy and is clearly influenced by Gogol and Chekhov. ErdmanΆs reward for writing the play, which was banned by the Stalinist regime, was a prolonged period of exile in Siberia. It was first produced forty years later in Sweden, and during the 1970s and 80s was performed in many theatres in Europe, South Africa and America. Although it was not produced in Russia until 1987, by 1989 it had become the fourth most frequently staged work in the playwrightΆs homeland. At the NTG it is being staged in a musical version, with Giorgos Papageorgiou directing a superb company of actors and musicians.