1918, Finland after the Civil War. The famous actor of the Workers’ Theatre, Parikka, is caught and sent to a prison camp where his remaining comrades languish on the verge of death. All the red rebels at the camp are going to be executed. Parikka’s situation among his comrades is not comforting, either: the others consider him a traitor.
Nyborg, a young warrant officer who admires Parikka as an actor, leads the execution squad, but he is unable to give the order to fire. Parikka defies death by cracking jokes in front of the squad, getting a laugh out of the guards. Captain Kalm, the camp commandant, unexpectedly decides to stop the execution. He makes a suggestion to Parikka: if the actor and his comrades will put on an entertaining play for his German guests, they will not be shot.