Charterhouse Play Review: The Suicide

The Drama Department’s choice for the LQ 2018 play was “The Suicide” by Nicolai Erdman. The play is a satirical comedy about Semyon Podsekalnikov, an unemployed man who no longer sees any good in the world and thus contemplates taking his own life. When these thoughts are made public, all sections of society want him to commit suicide on behalf of their cause. Butchers, shady gangsters, writers, the clergy and many more desperately try to “use” him. As a result, Semyon becomes something of a “celebrity” with hilarious and confusing consequences.

The play was performed on the 14th, 15th and 16th of March and John Reeve (R) took up the role of Semyon, expertly characterising a depressed man, torn between feelings of inadequacy at living off his wife’s income, despair at not “being somebody”, and desire to “end it all”. Jamie Stapleton (S) played Alexander Petrovich Kalabushkin, the recently widowed neighbour and gave a humorous performance as he became the bookmaker for the “bidders” of Semyon’s suicide. Holly Gardner (F) was cast as Maria, Semyon’s loving wife, and Tom Joyce (G) was a cryptic member of the Intelligentsia.

The humour was derived not only from the outrageous slapstick, but also the confusion displayed by the characters in certain circumstances. Praise must also go to Mrs. Freeman, for the set design and costumes as well as Mr. Bagust for the set construction and lighting design. The set was intriguing, as most of the action occurred in the Podsekalnikov’s flat. The eight week long rehearsal schedule was evident, as the actors expressed all human emotions possible within two hours.

As much as this was a comedy, “The Suicide” was also interspersed with down-to-earth moments, and questions of morality. These were necessary to remind the audience of true human nature. Ultimately, Nicolai Erdman’s work is a hilarious piece of theatre and Mr. Freeman must be lauded for directing and bringing together such a demanding play.

“Well worth a watch!”