“Goodbye Cruel World” is a clever play, very funny indeed. It is adapted from Nikolai Erdman’s 1928 play, “The Suicide;” the political allegory is unmistakeable. The hapless protagonist, mistakenly tagged as a man determined to take his own life, is preyed upon by a rogues’ gallery of townspeople, friends, and family members, all looking to turn his suicide an advantageous ace in the hole for themselves, whether that be his elevation as a martyr or simply a way to make a few extra coins. The play’s separation from the political clime of post-revolutionary Russia makes it somewhat less cutting, but it’s an enjoyable and funny evening nonetheless. Five actors split twenty or so roles and make a cheerful spectacle, running around the stage, hastily changing costumes offstage to appear moments later, and so forth.
Robert Ross Parker is to be commended for his adaptation, which maintains a steady level of amusement and snappy banter throughout. I cannot help but feel that the production misses a number of opportunities to really escalate into gut-busting hilarity and/or rather pointed criticism of the current political climate here in Our Beloved Motherland, the dear ol’ Fifty States. In bolder hands, this play would be a dangerous comedic tool. Still, the director keeps the play bouncing along at a decent clip and the onstage musicians sound good. It’s a light summer comedy, perfectly suited for an easy night out. A brief postscript: Strange Tree must be commended for their excellent show titles, all listed in the program (I’d see something called “Mr. Spacky...The Man Who Was Continuously Followed By Wolves” on the strength of the title alone), and their extremely fine poster designs; it’s great work.