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Bathhouse


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A: Vladimir Mayakovsky Pf: 1930, Leningrad Pb: 1930 Tr: 1963 G: Drama in 6 acts; Russian prose S: Soviet Russia, 1920s C: 16m, 3f, extrasA crazy inventor Chudakov has invented a time machine. He tries it out, causing a minor explosion, and receiving a letter from 1980, which announces the arrival of a figure from the future the following day. Chudakov and his friend go to a government office to announce the success of their invention. They push past petitioners with their petty complaints, only to be told that government plans will not at present accommodate their discovery, especially as this department is run by a bureaucrat Pobedonosikov, who is stupid, incompetent, and corrupt. The Director interrupts the play, and asks Pobedonosikov how it might be improved. Pobedonosikov is unimpressed with the portrayal of the official named Pobedonosikov in the previous scene, and suggests a crude agitprop performance, an allegory of the death of Capital and the victory of the Proletariat. As promised, the figure from the future arrives, the Phosphorescent Woman. She concludes that the successes of the Soviet Union are due to the hard work of the ordinary people and not to the interference of bureaucrats. The play ends with Pobedonosikov's plaintive appeal to the author: ‘Do you mean that communism does not need me and the likes of me?’

A: Vladimir Mayakovsky Pf: 1930, Leningrad Pb: 1930 Tr: 1963 G: Drama in 6 acts; Russian prose S: Soviet Russia, 1920s C: 16m, 3f, extras

While in The Bedbug Mayakovsky has the obnoxious Prisypkin projected into a utopian future to reveal the inadequacies of the present, in The Bathhouse he brings a figure from the future to satirize bureaucracy and art in the new Soviet Russia. Indeed, given his scathing attack on officialdom, it is surprising that in 1935 Stalin declared him one of the great writers of the Revolution. Perhaps it was because Mayakovsky had saved further embarrassment by blowing out his brains in 1930. After the Leningrad premiere, the play was performed in Meyerhold's theatre in Moscow, though not directed by Meyerhold himself, where it flopped.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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