How it’s New York: Atlantic Theater Company is one of New York’s best, edgiest Off-Broadway companies.
How it’s Irish: Moira Buffini is an Irish playwright. There’s a reference to a shebeen (doesn’t make sense in Soviet Russia, but we’ll go with it.
Suicide is painless.
Or not. When Semyon Semyonovich Podeskalnikov (Joey Slotnick) decides to off himself, disgusted with his unemployed status in Soviet Russia, living off his wife in one of those apartments like the ones in “Ninotchka” where curtains separate different homes (set design by Walt Spangler) the decision unexpectedly makes him a celebrity.
That’s the premise of “Dying for It,” adapted by Moira Buffini from Nikolai Erman’s 1928 play (usually called “The Suicide”). As the play wears on you can see why it was banned by Stalin: there’s a lot of criticism of the Revolution, and by extension, the government, here.
As different factions vie to get Semyon to dedicate his suicide note to them– the Intelligentsia, the Artists, the Romantics– the play is amusing but a little schematic. But wait. There’s a lot more lurking underneath this play than an easy joke. Which is not to say that there aren’t big belly laughs, because there are.
As directed by Neil Pepe, “Dying for It” offers exquisite comedy from a top-notch cast. They make the sucker punches that follow hurt that much more.