Venue and date:
National Theatre of Hungary, Budapest
2023. 06. 13., 19:00
Théâtre National Populaire
Az öngyilkos. Fotó: Julienne Parisot
Az öngyilkos - Fotó: Julienne Parisot

The Suicide, soviet vaudeville

Venue and date:
National Theatre of Hungary, Budapest
2023. 06. 13., 19:00
Théâtre National Populaire
Nicolaï Erdman
Jean Bellorini
Stage designer: 
Véronique Chazal, Jean Bellorini
Costume designer: 
Macha Makeïeff
Costume designer's assistant: 
Laura Garnier
Melodie-Amy Wallet
Sébastien Trouvé

Soviet Union, late 1920s. In the middle of the night, Semione  Semionovitch, unemployed and miserable, tries to relieve his hunger by swallowing a liver sausage. He wakes up his wife, an argument breaks out and the pitiful hero disappears, threatening "his last breath".  Semionovitch’s wife, convinced that he will end his life, calls for help.  The news spreads, attracting the neighbourhood and soon a whole  gallery of characters intrude upon the unfortunate event. Thoughts of  posthumous glory overtake Semionovitch, prompting the thought: by  killing himself, could he finally become someone?

Written against the crossroads of the twenties and thirties, the play  was banned before it could be performed. Victim of the authoritarian  and repressive policies of the Soviet government, Nicolaï Erdman  was arrested, shortly after writing The Suicide, for having signed a  short satirical poem about Stalin. His two plays (The Mandate and  The Suicide) were definitly banned. He was sent for three years to  deportation and then placed under house arrest. He never resumed his  career as a playwright, keeping within him "an eternal fear". This is a  feeling that the "hero" of The Suicide, Semyonovich, is imbued with. An  empty shell, a mediocre and insignificant being, Semyonovich seems to  take on a life of his own only by the interested eyes of the others. On  the threshold of his death, he is finally by a breath of life – a terrible,  suspended whisper.  Tick, tock. In the satirical tradition of Gogol, Nicolaï Erdman here summons  people, notables, ecclesiastics, shopkeepers who persist in finding  meaning in their lives, even though all their previous reference points  have been destroyed. In this and asphyxiated society, a simple lie can  reveal a chain of impostures until the final explosion. Nicolaï Erdman's text continues to resound with force, so much so  that it contains a virulent critique of all oppressive political regimes  and a biting reflection on the meaning of existence. The story of this  pathetic little man who struggles in the chaos challenges our times,  our desires, our resignations. How to resist oppression without being a  hero?

Jean Bellorini and his troupe of actors, singers and musicians  venture into this political farce that is as juicy as it is chilling, with a relentless mechanic and a vaudeville feel. The choral work, the  musicians, and the costumes designed by Macha Makeïeff bring out the  humour and madness of a score that moves at the unbridled rhythm  of André Markowicz's translation. And finally, when the sets and masks  fall, the theatre remains, an immense declaration of love to life.

François Deblock
Mathieu Delmonté
Clément Durand
Anke Engelsmann
Gérôme Ferchaud
Jacques Hadjaje
Clara Mayer
Liza Alegria Ndikita
Marc Plas
Antoine Raffalli
Matthieu Tune
Julien Gaspar-Oliveri
Damien Zanoly
Zenészek: Anthony Caillet, Marion Chiron, Benoît Prisset
Runtime: 135 min
Language: Performed in French with Hungarian and English subtitles
Acts: 1
Age limit: 12
The Director
Jean Bellorini
Jean Bellorini

Award-winning stage director Jean Bellorini has a strong affinity for the great  classics of theatre and literature. In his work, theatre and music are closely  combined, as well as a generous company spirit, and he advocates theatre  that is both popular and poetic.

Trained as an actor at the École Claude Mathieu, he created the Compagnie  Air de Lune with whom he directed Fiddler on the roof by Jerry Bock and Joseph Stein, Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, Yerma by Federico García Lorca and L'Opérette, drawn from Valère Novarina’s Opérette imaginaire. In 2010, he created Tempête Sous Un Crâne, a show in two periods based on Victor Hugo's Les Misérables at the Théâtre du Soleil. In 2012, he directed Paroles gelées, based on the work of François Rabelais (awarded the Molière Best Direction), then in 2013 Liliom ou La Vie et la Mort d'un vaurien by Ferenc Molnár. In 2013, he created The Good Person of Szechwan by Bertolt Brecht (awarded the Molière for Best Show in Public Sector).

He was appointed in 2014 Director of the Théâtre Gérard Philipe, the centre dramatique national (CDN) in Saint Denis,where he staged Un Instant, inspired by Proust’s work; and Onegin, based on Pushkin’s verse novel.He continued his theatrical creation work with the direction, in 2015 with Un fils de notre temps, based on the novel by Ödön von Horváth. The show has toured more than a hundred times, in theatre venues aswell as non-dedicated venues (high schools, homes for the aged, etc.). In 2016, he created The Brothers Karamazov at the Festival d’Avignon, based on the novel by Fédor Dostoyevsky. Over the seasons of the TGP, he has revived Liliom, Tempête sous un crâne and Paroles gelées, thus creating a living repertoire and attracting new audiences. Jean Bellorini has been Director of the TNP since 2020, and in that same year, he opened the “Semaine d’art en Avignon” with Valere Novarina’s Le Jeu des Ombres. Surrounded by his troupe and a constellation of associated artists, he is working for a creative theatre that is based on transmission and education, a poetic theatre deeply rooted in its region.

He also founded the Troupe éphémere (the Ephemeral Ensemble), made up of young people from Saint-Denis and now from Villeurbanne. The project makes a lasting commitment to the teenage public, rehearses throughout the year, and culminates in a presentation on the main stage of the theatre. One of their shows was invited by Ariane Mnouchkine to the Théâtre du Soleil. Jean Bellorini has directed plays at the Berliner Ensemble (The Suicide by Nicolaï Erdman), the Alexandrinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, and most recently, with the Teatro di Napoli (Tartuffe by Molière). He has directed operas at the Lille Opera, the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and the Festival de Saint-Denis.His theatre can also be found in unexpected places. In 2016, for example, he and the actors of his troupe created a sound journey based on texts by Peter Handke for the exhibition Habiter le campement, produced by the Cité de l'architecture et du patrimoine. In 2018, he participated with some members of the Troupe éphémère in the exhibition Dazzling Venice at the Grand Palais (Paris), curated by Macha Makeïeff.

Inviting Theater
National Theatre of Hungary, Budapest