As far as I am concerned, the best thing about The Suicide is the brilliant sporadic drumming by Sam Jones. This is a pity, because, on paper this update of Nikolai Erdman’s subversive satire promises much. Originally written in 1928, The Suicide was banned the Soviet authorities in 1932. Whilst Suhayla El-Bushra’s version loosely follows the plot of the original, it can hardly be termed subversive or particularly funny.
The play centres around Sam Desai (Javone Prince) an unemployed young man who has lost his benefits and become totally disillusioned by his lot. Dependent on the earnings of his wife and over-sexed mother-in-law with whom he lives, Sam finally decides that life is all too much and perhaps he should end it all. Unfortunately for him, his initial tentative foray into committing suicide is filmed on a young man’s i-phone and immediately turns viral. Oh the way our flawed modern lives are ruled by social media and that there always seems to be someone out to exploit you at every turn! At least this is what Sam discovers when, amongst others, a creepy local politician, so called friend and trendy café owner, are desperate for him to carry out his suicide plan in order to further their own ends.
Highlighting the falseness of much of our society, Nadia Fall’s production tries way too hard to be funny, clever and shocking. As a result it is only amusing in places and in others resembles a runaway horse. Act Two in particular is a rather shambolic, hammy affair.
Only two actors really deliver a truthful interpretation of their characters; Paul Kaye as the hip film maker and Ashley McGuire’s droll mother-in-law. At one point she is brave enough to be viewed in all her naked glory ….. the point being? To be honest I really don’t know apart from using it as a cheap joke.
Actually I don’t know the point of any of it. Hopefully someone else will come along, use the concept of the original Suicide, ditch the “bells and whistles” and end up with a proper satirical indictment of what is wrong with our modern society. Until then the cast of this version are suffering an uphill struggle.