University of Laughs

Copyright Keith Kenney, 2012

We returned to Marjanishvili Theater to see another play, but this time we were seated on stage and we faced the theater of empty seats. We were in this odd position because we sat on a set of temporary bleachers, which rested on a giant rotating disk. At what would normally be the front of the stage was a very simple set and the two actors who performed University of Laughs. Near the end of the play, the disk turned the audience in a full circle as the two actors ran ahead and briefly assumed positions on other simple sets on what had been our left, rear, and right sides. Very interesting; very effective.

Here’s the plot: Set in 1940, a young playwright must submit his play to a government censor before rehearsals can begin. But the censor, who is looking for an excuse to shut down the comedy troupe, tells the writer that he needs to make a change and return the next day. Upon returning with great hopes, the writer is disappointed that another change must be made. Ironically, this cruel teasing makes the once poor-quality play better and better. Finally the play is perfected and the ending is  . . . ambiguous.

I apologize, but I couldn’t understand whether the censor had grown to like just the play or if she liked both the play and the play writer. The subtitle translations were better, but their timing off, which hurt my ability to understand some of the play’s meaning.