National Theatre (Lyttleton)Reviewed on Thursday 12th May (matinee)
Sam (played on the performance we saw by Adrian Richards) is feeling pretty low - he's lost his benefits, can't find a job, and his girlfriend Maya (Rebecca Scroggs) has just about had enough. After his nighttime suicidal rant is caught on tape by the local neighbour hoodies, his story becomes a YouTube sensation, and soon everybody wants a piece of Sam's impending demise.
A play titled The Suicide doesn't exactly appeal straight away, but when you notice the tag line, 'A comedy', you can't help but be intrigued.
Nikolai Erdman's classic Russian text has been given a modern multicultural makeover by Suhayla El-Bushra, swapping the traditional for kebabs and Tinder references - it's certainly bold.
It's a mix up of brazen comedy (with actual naked boobs) and political satire - including an appearance from Maggie Thatcher (played hilariously by Ashley McGuire) as Hell's very own new gatekeeper.
There's strong, witty work from Paul Kaye as a coke-snorting film maker who wants to turn Sam's story into a documentary, and Pooky Quesnel as an inefficient social worker. Richards gives a commanding performance, full of boundless energy and passion - hardly leaving the stage for its lengthy two hours and 30 minute run.
It's difficult to really understand what Nadia Fall's production wants us to take away from Sam's plight. It seems to so desperately want to make a statement, but shys away from being as bold and brutal as its original - which was actually banned by the Soviets on its release in 1932.
What is good about this version of The Suicide, is its full on, unapologetic attack of the senses - drumming, cartoon projections, hip hop dancing - a real treat to see on what can quite often be the stuffy stage of the Lyttleton.
It might not hit the nail quite on the head, but it's just enough of a screw loose to be wildly entertaining.
Reviewed by Oliver Dowdeswell
The Suicide runs at the National Theatre (Lyttleton) until 25th June.
Please visit www.nationaltheatre.org.uk for further information and tickets.
Photo Credit: Johan Persson