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The Russians Are Coming!

Two deep-thinking foreign plays are made simple.

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Like the day after too many shots of vodka, Swan Song + Confessions balances reflection, regret, and humor. As part of its Viva! and Gala Around Town Series, the Cleveland Museum of Art gathers a pair of satirical one-act plays — by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov and Nikolai Gogol — and presents them in a bite-sized package for contemporary audiences. “We can’t be too serious or too heavy,” says director Massoud Saidpour. “Enlightenment has to be engaging.”

Local actors Dorothy and Reuben Silver take on the lead roles in the double feature, which injects smart subtext and individualist attitude into the hoary classics. Chekhov’s Swan Song is “about memory or its loss,” says Saidpour. “And it’s about coming to terms with our own existence. It’s this beautiful tension between comedy and tragedy.” Confessions updates Gogol’s 19th-century Diaries of a Madman by placing the story of a government worker’s mental meltdown into a modern 9-to-5 office setting. “The madman is just a catalyst to the madness around him,” says Saidpour. “It’s about the powerful and the powerless.”
Thursdays-Sundays, 7:30 p.m. Starts: Jan. 5. Continues through Jan. 22

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