The story behind the spectacle.
Inspired by the legend of the ‘12 Chairs’.
In Soviet Russia in 1927, a former member of nobility works as a desk clerk until his grandmother reveals on her deathbed that her family jewellery had been hidden from the Bolsheviks in one of the 12 chairs from the family’s dining room set.
Those chairs, along with all other personal property, had been expropriated by the government after the Russian Revolution.
The desk clerk, played by Valerik and his sidekick Valik, become a treasure hunter and the Bolsheviks try to track down the chairs.
The two ‘comrades’ find the chair set which is put out to the auction, but fail to buy it and afterwards find out that the set has been split up and sold individually.
They are not alone in their quest to find the jewels, but through a process of elimination, the two finally discover the location of the twelth and final chair – but will this chair contain the treasure?
Follow our buffoons in their quest for fame and fortune as they discover if their fate lies in the stars or in a fools paradise.
THE TWELVE CHAIRS
Other productions inspired by the story.
The book has not only inspired The Moscow State Circus in its latest production, but also a series of films and live comedy shows.
In ‘Keep Your Seats Please’ (Ealing Studios, 1936) starring George Formby, the action takes place in England. Another difference between the book and the film was that this story revolved around seven chairs, not twelve.
The comedy ‘It’s in the Bag!’ (1945) starring Fred Allen and Jack Benny was very loosely based on the novel, using just five chairs.
In 1962 Tomas Gutierrez Alea made a Cuban version titled ‘Las Doce Sillas’ in a tropical context starkly similar to the Soviet one of the novel.
Mel Brooks later made a film more closely based on the novel titled ‘The Twelve Chairs’ (1970), but with a sanitised ‘happier’ ending.
The story also served as the basis for the film ‘The Thirteen Chairs ‘(1969) starring Sharon Tate. Shortly after that, two adaptations were made in the USSR : a film in 1971 by Leonid Gaidai and a miniseries in 1976 by Mark Zakharov, featuring Andrei Mironov as Bender.
In total, the novel inspired as many as about twenty adaptations in Russia and abroad.