Aisle View: Suicide is Painless

January 10, 2015 4:25 PM

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"Suicide is painless" goes that innocuous-but-satirical ditty written for the 1970 movie "M*A*S*H." Suicide was also painless in Nikolai Erdman's 1928 play The Suicide, but the satire was so severe that the Soviet authorities cancelled the production and sent the author off to Siberia. This despite, apparently, a plea from the great Stanislavsky to Stalin himself on Erdman's behalf. The Suicide was sent into a deep freeze so deep that it went unproduced in Russia until decades after the author's death. The Atlantic Theatre Company now gives us Moira Buffini's adaptation of The Suicide, at the Linda Gross Theater. Dying for It was initially produced by The Almeida Theatre in London in 2007.

Erdman's piece was an absurdist comedy, falling somewhere between Gogol's The Inspector General and Marx's "Duck Soup." (Not that Marx, but the subversive brothers from East 93rd Street--who in any event didn't make their film until Erdman was already in exile.) Semyon Semyonovich is a henpecked fai...

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