That is not to say there is no heart or emotional energy to the work. The great Soviet poet is impassioned with his homeland in Georgia, with language, and—to a certain extent—with the Communist Party and his love of Lilya, as well as his friendship with her complaisant husband, Osip (Andy Hirsch). And Mayakovsky, despite his belief in the party, is also doubtful of the ability of his fellow countrymen to make the necessary changes and, like everyone else, is quite terrified by Stalin and his henchman. After all, even though Mednick’s play does not represent this, Stalin would eventually kill and destroy almost all of the early believers in Communism who worked as writers, artists, dancers, and in theater (as Mayakovsky himself did). The poet’s cynicism, voiced several times in this work, is perhaps best expressed in a comic poem which I, myself, translated several years ago:
Besides the above translation I have had a larger connection with Vladimir Mayakovsky through a series of translations of his plays by Paul Schmidt. Pablo and I, just this year, published the most radical of those works, Vladimir Mayakovsky: A Tragedy, translated and designed according to the original by Guy Bennett, on my Green Integer press series.