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In 1977, Tom Stoppard wrote a play dedicated to Soviet dissidents Vladimir Bukovsky and Viktor Fainberg. It is set in a Soviet mental hospital. Two men, both named Ivanov, share a cell. Alexander Ivanov is a dissident who cannot be released until he admits that he is mad and agrees that all of his statements against the government were the product of his mental illness. His cellmate, the other Ivanov, is mad. He believes he is conducting a symphony orchestra, which he hears in his mind.
In 2009, the play was revived at the National Theatre, in London. It received lukewarm reviews. “Unpacking the setting,” wrote critic Mark Espiner, “leads you into the heart of the problem — that it is dated.” Ian Shuttleworth dismissed it on similar grounds. “To put it harshly, this bleak, fantastical indictment of the Soviet Union’s use of psychiatric hospitalisation against dissidents is a play for yesterday.”