Sunday, January 31, 2010

Goodbye Cruel World

photo: Jim Baldassare

Poor unemployed Semyon (Paco Tolson) has never been so popular as when he decides to shoot himself. Suddenly several strata of Russian society are beating down his door to lay claim as the inspiration for his upcoming suicide. That's about the gist of this slice of dark (often existential) humor adapted from Nikolai Erdman's The Suicide by director Robert Ross Parker. The original play had enough political criticism to get its playwright banished to Siberia during Stalin's reign and you can certainly still see why, but as presented here the tone is more zany than heavy - one can greatly enjoy the production either for the intelligent sting of its text, for the contagious joy with which this distinct brand of comedy is put over by a game cast of 6, or (preferably) for both at the same time. Cast standout: William Jackson Harper, an actor I've admired in several dramas who here displays dead-on comic timing.

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