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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

MARQUEE: Comedy Soft On History's Hard Truths

"Profi" at the Stanislavsky Drama Theater is a comedy by the Serbian writer Dushan Kovachevich that attempts to come

to terms with the recent Communist past. As directed by Alexei Litvin, the emphasis is more on covering up hard questions than answering them.

At the center are two men - Teodor Teo Krai, a "great" dissident writer who since the fall of Communism has been the editor at a prestigious publishing house, and Luka Laban, a "professional," or, in plainer terms, a secret policeman who has followed Teodor's every step for 18 years. Luka lost his job two years ago, but even as he supported himself by driving a taxi he continued his surveillance out of habit and out of the affection he has come to feel for Teodor. Now Luka has paid a visit to Teodor in his spiffy modern office (designed by Alexander Oparin) to hand over his files and make a clean break with his past.

Kovachevich wrote a "humanistic" play about the relative nature of the relationship between the oppressor and the oppressed. It's a laudable stance for it presumes the undeniable truth that all humans can err for reasons beyond their control. But, as the play is performed at the Stanislavsky, I see little more in it than a feeble, feel-good

apologia for human weakness.

The most attractive of the pair is Leonid Satanovsky's Luka.

This gentle, easygoing agent is a man who, to the limited degree of his capabilities, has taken stock of his life. He has acquired respect for Teodor but has never lost self- respect either. Satanovsky, by sheer personal charisma, brings us close to this professional snitch.

Mikhail Yanushkevich's Teodor is less fleshed-out. He is simple at heart, self-centered and burdened with a mind not nearly as quick as that of his nemesis. As such it makes it hard to take him seriously as a worthy object of the former government's undivided attention to say nothing of our own. The closest he really seems to come to greatness is when he puts on an old fur hat Bulat Okudzhava once gave him.

As Luka advanced his theory that he never engaged in vile activities "more than was necessary" and intimated that he was as much a victim as the man he persecuted for two decades, I found myself pondering the notion that oversimplifying the past is not the same as making peace with our mistakes.

- John Freedman