The Suicide – review
National Theatre

Published: Monday, April 18, 2016 9:55 AM | Review by: Lloyd Lewis-Hayter |
The Suicide - National Theatre, Javone Prince as Sam and Rebecca Scroggs as Maya. Photo by Johan Persson The Suicide - National Theatre, Javone Prince as Sam and Rebecca Scroggs as Maya. Photo by Johan Persson

Taking aim at the media, the government and most of all capitalism, The Suicide is an unapologetically social and politically driven satirical piece of work.

Playing host to an Act For Change meeting last year, the National Theatre and more specifically their new artistic director Rufus Norris were grilled and in Adrian Lester’s (read interview) words rightfully “embarrassed” by creatives concerned with the shocking lack of diversity within some of the country’s biggest live art organisations. Fast forward to less than a year later and we’re at the National Theatre, ready to watch a play boasting a female writer and director and starring a young black lead actor.


The Suicide (see listing), a play by Russian writer Nikolai Erdman written in 1928 and set in the Stalinist era doesn’t seem an obvious choice for a theatre striving for a more up to date and varied offering, but this of course is an adapted version of the original play reimagined by the National’s associate director Nadia Fall and writer in residence Suhayla El-Bushra (read interview) and starring one of the country’s most recognisable young comedic actors, Javone Prince (read interview).


Bringing the play forward to the present day sees The Suicide set in an inner city London estate, where protagonist Sam and his wife live in her mum’s cramped flat. Unemployed for five years and with his benefits cut due to being late to a meeting at the Job Centre, Sam has hit an all-time low and with his wife working two jobs it seems the relationship is at breaking point.


The Suicide - National Theatre, Javone Prince as Sam and Rebecca Scroggs as Maya. Photo by Johan Persson The Suicide - National Theatre, Javone Prince as Sam and Rebecca Scroggs as Maya. Photo by Johan Persson

Unknowingly filmed by a passing teen in the middle of a breakdown in the estate, Sam’s moment of madness goes viral within minutes and he quickly falls victim to all sorts of characters urging him to take his own life as a statement for their personal issues of interest all with hilarious consequences.


A social worker pushed to her limits by government cuts, a local MP with a seemingly intentional likeness to Sadiq Khan and an activist/documentary film maker are amongst the ugly intrusive crowd after a piece of Sam’s final moments.


Taking aim at the media, the government and most of all capitalism, The Suicide is an unapologetically social and politically driven satirical piece of work. Packed with laugh out loud material and equally brilliant comedic performances from the entire cast, it's a great start for such diverse plays being brought in to the National's larger spaces such as The Lyttelton Theatre.


The Suicide - National Theatre, Javone Prince as Sam and Rebecca Scroggs as Maya. Photo by Johan Persson The Suicide - National Theatre, Javone Prince as Sam and Rebecca Scroggs as Maya. Photo by Johan Persson

Alongside this staging of The Suicide, being put in such a spotlight has seen the National Theatre set a target to reach a 50/50 gender balance of writers and directors by 2020, appoint Sir Lenny Henry to their board and announce a 2016 season that sees Peter Pan’s Captain Hook and Twelfth Night’s Malvolio played by female actors, and a colour blind casting of period drama Amadeus. If The Suicide is anything to go by The National’s focus on broadening its offering is working, let's just hope it lasts.



Info: The Suicide (see listing) is playing at the National Theatre until 25 June 2016 | Book tickets | Watch trailer



Related links

Get £10 tickets to see The Suicide
Javone Prince – interview, The Suicide




join our mailing list
* indicates required
Get regular updates on what's happening in the world of African-Caribbean theatre and win theatre tickets.

ENTER YOUR DETAILS BELOW: