New York City
How to Explain the History of Communism to Mental Patients is an uproarious black comedy about mankind’s pursuit of a perfect world. When the Director of the Central Hospital for the Mental Disorders of Moscow decides that his patients can benefit from being taught the words of the Great Lenin and Mighty Stalin, he turns to a writer who has been awarded the Stalin prize by mighty Stalin himself. Yuri Petrovski, the play’s befuddled protagonist, lectures on the history of Communism to the lightly, the moderately and the deeply debilitated. On the surface, his parables read as politically correct, but off the page they have a subversive life of their own. "Utopia," Yuri Petrovski proclaims "is when you are in deep shit and you want to get out." Nobody is going to get out of the mental hospital which is the setting of this play. Nobody. Not the patients or the staff. For the hospital is a metaphor for the grotesque world of Stalinist Russia on the verge of the tyrant’s death. As the play opens, with some 100 million victims to his pursuit of a "new man", Stalin, still retains an emotional hold over his country. The action of the play reveals the mangled universe that emerges when idealistic ideas are used repressively to achieve political ends.