peteg's blog - noise - theatre - 2010 03 23 TheSuicide

Belvoir Downstairs: The Suicide.

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Six months after my last foray to Belvoir, I saw that the Hayloft Project have once again migrated north for these dying days of summer. The cheapie Tuesday price has been jacked up to $12. I was fortunate when the girl behind the counter sweetly squeezed me in with about ninety other people when some reservations didn't show. Apparently at least some in the crowd were watching it as part of their drama studies at Sydney Uni.

This play is a farce. The comedic elements are diverse and self-knowing, which is not quite the same thing as innovative and funny. Apparently the play was written in 1928 by Russian Nikolai Erdman: roughly, Lenin is dead, Stalin is just beginning to stack the bodies, and things are looking a tad grim for the locals. Semyon Semyonovich wants out because his wife is insufficiently servile, he has no employment and no real prospects of an outsize life. Once suicide is decided upon, there's the question of naming rights. Segue to a pre-wake and then a suitably improbable conclusion for Semyon.

I can imagine that the play originally manifested a lot of political commentary, but that has been toned down in this production. Mr Nip-it-in-the-Bud would make an excellent motivational speaker, and indeed all the actors were excellent. Gareth Davies has a huge role and carries it off as well as anyone could, playing (being?) drunk ala Robert Downey Jr for extended periods. Everyone keeps their undies on this time. However the ending dragged and I wanted Semyon offed at least twenty minutes before the actors took their bows. I have to say I much preferred the director Simon Stone's efforts on The Only Child.

This crew has a lot of fans, and maybe a good press agent. Perhaps that explains the lack of diversity in the reviews. Also there is no interval, just a hundred continuous minutes, which weirded me out as I did want a beer.