If there were theater awards for making one’s own professional life difficult, SBCC’s Katie Laris should get some sort of nomination for putting on Nikolai Erdman’s 1928 farce “The Suicide.” When her first choice of a play became unavailable in January, did she look at her schedule and think “let’s fill the small Interim Theater with 18 actors instead, all playing characters with long Russian names?” One wonders.
“The Suicide” is not well-known, even among fans of theater. Banned in its lifetime, resurrected in the 1960s and performed occasionally ever since, Erdman’s play courses the woes of post-revolutionary Russia and a pointed critique of groupthink. It also overflows with a Brueghel-esque cast of characters and/or caricatures. It’s a history piece, no doubt. Is there enough between the lines to sustain a night at the theater?