Dying For It will open at North London’s Almeida Theatre on March 15 following previews that begin March 8.
Directed by Kathy Burke (The God of Hell), Dying for It features Tom Brooke (The Long and the Short and the Tall), Susan Brown (Road), Charlie Condou (Cracked), Michelle Dockery (Pillars of the Community), Barnaby Kay (Closer), Tony Rohr (The Quare Fellow also directed by Burke), Paul Rider (Coriolanus), Sophie Stanton (Market Boy), Ronan Vibert (War and Peace) and Liz White (Plasticine).
In The Suicide, Erdman’s hero is the unemployed Semyon (played by Brooke in Buffini’s version), who proposes to commit suicide. Hearing of his plan, he is inundated with requests from disaffected citizens who demand that he dies for their causes. With lines like, "You can’t get a job without influence, and there’s so much work in Russia, there’s not enough influence to go round," it is not surprising Stalin’s censors took a dim view of the play. It was not seen in the Soviet Union until 1982.
The 1980 RSC production featured Roger Rees as Semyon. The previous major London production of a play by Erdman was Declan Donnellan's version of The Mandate, also banned in the USSR, staged by the National Theatre in 2004-05.
Moira Buffini’s work includes Dinner, which was performed at the National Theatre before transferring to the West End, and Love Play, commissioned by the RSC. For more on Dying for It, which will run at the Almeida until April 28, call (0)20 7359 4404.