Upon entering the theatre, mental patients are cleaning the set with toothbrushes. Odd music is playing while they hum and sing bizarre tones. It sets the stage for a very avant-garde performance.
Yuri Petrovski is a writer hired to teach the history of communism to the patients at a mental hospital. He repeats many times: “Utopia is when you’re in deep shit and you want to get out.” One of the nurses, Katia, is a fervent Stalin supporter. She asks Yuri, “Have you ever met Stalin?” “I shook his hand.” Upon hearing this, she gets very excited and jumps Yuri. She worships Stalin like a god.
All of the actors do an excellent job speaking in a Russian accent. They speak each other’s names often to give it even more of a Russian feel. In addition, the sounds and set design completely transport the audience from Chicago to Moscow. It’s a fantastic engrossing and bewildering performance that must be seen to understand, perhaps more than once.
See How to Explain the History of Communism to Mental Patients at the Trap Door Theatre though April 23rd.