Theater Info for the Washington DC region

1st Stage The Suicide

By • Oct 10th, 2008 • Category: Reviews

This is the ShowBizRadio Review of The Suicide performed by 1st Stage in McLean Virginia. We saw the performance on Thursday evening October 9th , 2008.

The Suicide is a comedy by Nicolai Erdman, written in 1930; translated and adapted by John Freedman. Unhappy, unemployed, and undone, Semyon has two options: play the tuba or shoot himself. When the former doesn’t work out, he’s left with only one choice-at least in the eyes of those who seek to exploit his misfortune. Wooed and besieged by a discontented intellectual, a romantic sexpot, a drunken priest, a gun-toting butcher, a fevered artist and a communist nutcase, Semyon weaves, dodges, and skitters along his own road to history. The Suicide is regarded as one of the finest plays to have come out of Communist Russia.

This was a funny show; but not necessarily hilarious or slap-stick comedy. There was great pacing, although the first act was a bit too long, and the actors had the timing down pat. Even though it was a comedy, there was a lot of intensity surrounding the central characters. This intensity was expressed through the emotions of the seventeen performers on stage.

Lucas Beck played Semyon Podsekalnikov. Semyon and his wife lived in a rundown house in Russia. Semyon was trying to find work and has been so far unsuccessful. His character appears very disheartened, in a constant state of depression. His demeanor was sad and his actions were angry. This could partly be due to the fact that his wife, Masha, played by Julia Broder, was the current breadwinner. She was strong and her character was forthright. She was supportive of her husband and the two were comfortable on stage together.

Susan Holliday played Masha’s mother Serefima. She did not seem old enough for the part. However she was attentive to Masha. She was uncomfortable around Semyon.

The set for The Suicide was unique. Different levels created with construction scaffolding with large walls hiding doors that allowed for creative entrances. Cast members also scaled the scaffolding throughout the show. The Set Designer was Nathaniel Krause.

The Suicide ran two and a half hours with one intermission. It closes this weekend. It is playing Friday at 8 pm and and Saturday and Sunday at 7:00 pm.

Once you’ve seen the show, please feel free to leave a comment here on our website at ShowBiz We’d also like to invite you to join our free mailing list so you can stay informed with theater events in the DC Region.

And now, on with the show.


  • Semyon: Lucas Beck
  • Masha: Julia Broder
  • Serafima: Susan Holliday
  • Alexander Kalabushkin: Jon Jon Johnson
  • Margarita: Amy Waldman
  • Aristarkh: David Winkler
  • Yegor: Daniel Chestnut
  • Pugachyov: Michael Mandell
  • Victor: Peter Van Valkenburgh
  • Father Yelpidy: Jan Forbes
  • Cleopatra Maximovna: Kateri Chambers
  • Raisa Filippovna: Elif Uncu
  • Anisya’s Nephew: Stephen Lopez
  • Kostya, a waiter: Scott Anderson
  • Zinka Padespan the Undertaker: Brian Clarke
  • Grunya the Drunk: Michael Sandoval
  • Masha (understudy): Valerie Chamness


  • Set Design: Nathaniel Krause
  • Costume Design: Andre Hopfer, Cheryl Wu
  • Lighting Design: Sebastian Wilbern
  • Scenic Art: Bob Krause
  • Master Carpenter: Gene Nicholson
  • Poster Art: Alex Mandell
  • Web Design: Peter Van Valkenburgh
  • House Manager: Deb Crerie
  • Box Office Manager: Maria Deliz
  • Vocal Coach: Jane Margulies Kalbfeld
  • Director: Mark Krikstan
  • Stage Manager: Lauren Freidman
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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

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