Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lenin's Embalmers

Vern Thiessen's entertaining, thought-provoking new play, Lenin's Embalmers, tells the true story of former friends called upon to make Lenin's corpse last forever. If they succeed, they will be rich and lauded; if they fail, their lives are over. Vlad (Zach Grenier) is the scientific genius, a drunk who hates the necessary hypocrisies of dealing with the Soviet regime. Boris (Scott Sowers) is the consummate politician, a pragmatist who understands that playing the game is the only road to survival. Out of this dour tale, Thiessen and director William Carden have created a fluid, darkly funny piece about the insanities and horrors of Stalin's regime and how our saints are invented to meet the needs of their time and place. Interestingly, as the embalmers strive to create Stalin's version of Lenin, the playwright creates his own version of Lenin, a wry, sardonic, sad presence, horrified by his deification. This is a first-class production of an excellent play with a uniformly wonderful cast.

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