Medicine Show Theatre presents Vladimir Mayakovsky’s 1929 play, The Bedbug, a biting romp through the Soviet bourgeoisie complete with philistines, party fat cats and profiteers. Visiting artist Ashley Wren Collins directs this production as part of Medicine Show Theatre’s (MST) acclaimed Season of Russia. Collins received her MFA from the American Repertory Theater / Moscow Art Theatre School IATT at Harvard.
Vicious in its mockery of early Communist society, The Bedbug tells the story of Ivan Prisypkin, a worker who wants to marry into the bourgeoisie and live a life of decadence. But a bizarre accident at his wedding leaves him frozen in a block of ice. Flash forward 50 years in the utopian (not so vaguely communist) future, where passion, vice, and even love is ancient history. A defrosted Prisypkin wakes in this cold new world to find himself a zoo attraction, the bedbug that was accidentally frozen with him now his lone companion.
This production – the first fully staged one in New York since the 1970s – will be performed with an ensemble of 9 actors playing over 90 roles, and honor the zany spirit of the original, while highlighting the paradox of how much and how little has changed in the last 90 years. The show uses Dmitri Shostakovich‘s original score, once thought lost until unearthed from the Soviet state files in the 1990s, as a stepping stone of inspiration for original live incidental music.
Throughout this yearlong 100th anniversary of the Russian revolution, MST has hosted many lively talkbacks following performances to engage audiences by examining issues such as genocide, propaganda and other thorny, but vital and timely topics.
Previews begin April 6th; opening night is April 12th. Both previews and performances are Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 3:00pm through May 6th. Visit bedbug.brownpapertickets.com for tickets.
Medicine Show Theatre Ensemble offers alternatives to conventional theatre by playing with language, music, movement, form, and ideas. MST is one of the oldest surviving experimental theatre companies in New York City.