Plays * 2008 * playwrighting.net * amazon.com *
* also, see INVESTOR GENERAL
[ advertising space : webmaster ]
More in RAT -- Russian-American Theatre
ShowCases: 3 Sisters, Mikado, 12th Night, Hamlet, The Importance of Being Earnest, Dangerous Liaisons, Don Juan
prof. Anatoly Antohin Theatre UAF AK 99775 USA
The Possessed 2003
^ The Shrew Film Directing "showcase" ^
Russian & Soviet Theatre (Rudnitzki) *
Straigt English translation:
one file play * gutenberg
NotesA few words in Russian :
A full-lenth play, my free adaption of Gogol's text, a modernization. Staged at University of Alaska in 1992, main stage. The pictures from the show on my Lab Theatre
@1992 Anatoly G. Antohin
MISTER K, man from America
JO, his Russian friend and assistant
MAYOR, the mayor of the small Siberian town
ANNA, his wife
MARY, his daughter
SUPER, schools' superintendent
JUDGE, local judge
DIRECTOR, Director of Social Services
EDITOR of local newspaper and councilman
DOB Chinsky & BOB Chinsky, local councilmen and businessmen
CHIEF, police captain
Time: Christmas 199...
Place: small Siberian town "Leninsk" recently renamed back to "Little Mudhole"
Set: Mayor's office, Room in local hotel, Mayor's house
"Dancing Set" - everything moves, including doors. At some
dramatic moments by themselves. Mayor's office equipment has
life of its own - telephones, fax or printer don't work, except
for the time when you don't need them. Slogans: "Lets Complete
Our Historic Leap to Capitalism before Christmas!" "God Bless
Free Market!" "Army and Police for Democracy!" "Re-elect Mayor,
the Industrial Christianity Party Leader!"
What a strange way we're moving into "global village" -
there's more socialist spirit in Alaska then in Russia, and more
capitalist crusaders in Siberia then in America. Russia finally
entered the American Age and of course became more American than
America itself. So I looked at the Gogol's play as a true
classic and used the story as a myth for a contemporary tale. A
traditional comedy of errors in which an American student
stranded in a small Siberian town on his way to Fairbanks is
mistaken for a big time American investor...
What's wrong with America is more visible in "American
Russia". What's wrong with Russia is more obvious when Russians
try to be true Americans.
The sky is Russian Paradise, and/or American Dream; bright advertizing, happy bill boards, gigantic hamburgers, tuxedos, tacky wedding dresses, big cars and smiles of movie superstars, canned food - The Americana - suspended in the air an overblown junk yard, a heavenly garage sale - oh, a sweet dream of every Russian! On the floor - a blue print of success, ways to riches, dollar signs - a monopoly game board. The flies bring "America" down when they, little people on the floor, are dreaming, and take it away back up to the dream land - up, up, till everything is out of sight. Even furniture leaves. An Empty Space. Dumb Scene.
What a strange way we're moving into "global village" - there's more socialist spirit in Alaska then in Russia, and more capitalist crusaders in Siberia then in America. Russia finally entered the American Age and of course became more American than America itself. So I looked at the Gogol's play as a true classic and used the story as a myth for a contemporary tale. A traditional comedy of errors in which an American student stranded in a small Siberian town on his way to Fairbanks is mistaken for a big time American investor...
What's wrong with America is more visible in "American Russia". What's wrong with Russia is more obvious when Russians try to be true Americans.
MAYOR (Turns off the tape player) I have invited you all here to tell you -- it's coming. JUDGE What? DIRECTOR Who? MAYOR Money. Greenbacks! But secretly. ALL Money!? Secretly? From where? MAYOR Let me show you a fax I've received from my friend in Moscow. (Reads) "An American businessman has arrived to investigate all of Siberia, and your region in particular. Although he pretends to be a tourist, he is in fact a millionaire, planning to invest billions." ALL Millionaire!? To us!? To invest!? Incredible! Unbelievable! Billions?! And to us?! MAYOR Now listen closely. Until now, they've only been approaching big cities. Well, now it's our turn to steal western aid. Watch out and don't fall on your face. I've made some arrangements already, and I recommend that you do the same. (To DIRECTOR) Especially you. The American for sure will want to check out our health conditions for his investment. Make the place presentable, so your patients won't be walking like a gang from the Gulag. Also, write things in English everywhere. Oh, and it's no good that your patients are smoking in bed and damaging the environment. In America, there is a campaign against smoking. In fact, it's better if there are fewer patients altogether. DIRECTOR Oh, we have our methods. The closer to nature, the better-- we don't use fancy medications. Man is a simple animal; if he's about to die, he'll die, if he's about to get better, he'll get better, no matter what. MAYOR (To Judge) And you should pay attention to your court. The staff is keeping geese in the courtroom, and the damn birds are constantly underfoot. Now, it's understandable that, according to the president's decree, everybody must have a private enterprise, but, you know, in such a place it's unsuitable. JUDGE Alright, by a court order they all will be killed. Immediately. I mean, the birds. MAYOR Besides, you have all that rubbish drying everywhere. Skins, fish, and on the file cabinet, a machine gun! I know that you like to hunt, but for now, you'd best hide it. After the American leaves, you can hang them all up again. Oh, and then there's your court clerk. He is, of course, a hero and a veteran, but he smells as if he's just crawled out of a vodka bottle. There are natural remedies for it, if it really is, as he claims, his natural odor. Advise him to eat onions or garlic. JUDGE Impossible! There is no way of getting rid of it. He says they dropped him in delivery room, and ever since, he's smelled of vodka. MAYOR Alright, alright. Just order him not to breathe in the presence of the millionaire. And one last thing. I want you all to take it easy with the privatization campaign while the American's here. I mean, stop stealing openly. JUDGE But that depends on what you mean. I tell everyone honestly that I take bribes. But in what manner? Dollars, marks, franks. That's different. That is collector's items. MAYOR A bribe is a bribe! JUDGE I disagree, Mayor. For example, let us take the following case: when someone has a wife, and the wife has a fur--- MAYOR (Interrupting) That's not the point, the point is that you don't believe in right democracy and proper God, whereas every Sunday I am in the church reading newspapers. But you? When you start talking about reforms, it's hair-raising! JUDGE I came to the discovery of the Universal Law of Progress by myself, using only my own brain. MAYOR In some cases, too much brains is worse than no brains at all. (to SUPER) And you, as the school superintendent, you must do something about those teachers of yours! I realize they're intelligentsia of every sort, but they have some strange behavior. Which I suppose goes along with a teaching profession. One of them, for instance--I can't recall his name--he can't get up in front of the class without making a face, and then he scratches his hairy chest. Okay, if he makes such a face to a bad student, it may be necessary to the educational process, but imagine if he does it to our American. Mister Investor might take it personally. SUPER What can I do with him? I've told him a million times. The other day, when our congressman came to visit the school, he made a face worse than anything I had ever seen before. He did it out of his good heart, but I got reprimanded, "Why are reactionary ideas being implanted in our the youths' heads?" MAYOR (Interrupting) Also, I must talk to you about the history teacher. He may be a Ph.D. candidate, that's obvious, and he's got plenty of historical facts in his head, but why does he have to explain everything with such passion? Why, once I heard him--well, when he was talking about the Czars, it was alright, but when he got to Stalin, I can't describe what happened to him. He began to run about crying, and he smashed his chair on the floor like a madman. Now, I understand that Comrade Stalin was a tyrant, but why smash the chairs? It's damaging to the democratic property. SUPER Yes, he's hot. I've mentioned it to him a billion times, but he just tells me, "You can do whatever you want, but for the sake of progress and the human race, I am ready to take my own life at any time!" MAYOR Yes, that's one of the mysterious rules of nature, an intelligent man is either a drunk or an idiot. SUPER Exactly! I hope own my worst enemy never has to serve in the department of education, sir. MAYOR (Interrupts) All right! Comrades! This American is our ticket to a big time game! We'll milk mister America until he has nothing to invest anywhere. Now, what is our strategy? Our major task is to create an image for this city! To show that we are also a part of Europe, but simply as yet undiscovered by America. (Phones ring, all panic)(The furniture leaves the stage. Blackout)
Scene 2: Getting Press Ready(EDITOR enters, with papers, smoking) EDITOR What's going on? What's this about an American coming? MAYOR Well? What do you think about it? EDITOR What do I think? War is coming! JUDGE Just as I thought! EDITOR I'm telling you, a war is coming between Siberia and Russia. MAYOR What war? I have this fax. (Shows the fax) EDITOR Well, in that case, there will be no war. MAYOR (to EDITOR) Well, what do you think, Mister "Press"? EDITOR Me? I'm a small fish. How do you feel, mayor? MAYOR Well, I don't have any fear, as such, but then, you know, the taxpayers, the business people, the population, they make me worry. They say that I'm bad. Even if I took and gave, here and there, it was done without bad feelings. I'm sure there will be some letters to the editor against me. Listen, couldn't you, for our common good, if any such letter arrives, just, you know, just "correct" it a little bit. And then, you can print it in the paper, or even not print it at all. EDITOR No need to tell me, I do it all the time. Not out of precaution, but simply out of love for the Russian language. JUDGE One day, you will get in trouble for such editing. MAYOR Yes, yes. It would be a different matter if we were making personal use of it. But this is for the city's sake, so to speak. Because of our patriotic intentions! Just imagine, a millionaire! Billions of dollars! And it could happen any minute now. Any minute the door could open and--... (Doors open and move. Voices BS, arguing)
SCENE 3: He is Here!(BOB and DOB CHINSKY enter breathless, with dark glasses and brief cases) BOB Amazing incident! DOB Heavy news! ALL What, what is it? DOB We went to the hotel... BOB (Interrupting) Me and Dob, we went to the hotel... DOB (Interrupting) Shut up Bob, let me tell the story! BOB Oh no, let me tell it, let me, you have no style. DOB And you will stumble and won't even remember the whole thing! BOB I will, I swear I will! Please, don't interrupt, let me tell it. MAYOR I'm about to have a heart attack! Everybody sit down! Now, what is it? BOB Let me start from the very beginning. As soon as I left you after your fax--(To DOB) Please don't interrupt--I ran to the judge, from the judge to the director, from the director to the editor and at the "Golden Mud" I meet Dob. Yes, and after I meet Dob I say to him, "Have you heard the news our mayor got from his reliable sources?" (To DOB) Don't interrupt me! He, Dob, said, "Let's stop by a hotel, there's an headache in my stomach. Let's get a couple of wake up drinks," and just then as we walked into the restaurant and suddenly a young man... DOB (Interrupting) With a foreign face, American smile and western eyes... BOB With a foreign face, smile, and eyes was walking around the cafeteria and on his face he had such a look of deliberation, so to speak. And I said to Dob, "Here is something not of our make!" Yes! And Dob had already asked the owner, whose wife gave birth three weeks ago and the little boy is an businessman already--he will be a crook like his father-- (To DOB) Oh, please, don't interrupt, don't interrupt me, you have one tooth that whistles -- "That young man," the owner says, "is a foreigner from Alaska and behaves very strangely. It's his second week here and he doesn't pay!" Well then it hit me suddenly. "Aha," I said to Dob-- DOB (Interrupts) No Bob, it was me who said, "Aha." BOB You said it first then I said it. "Aha," we said together, "What is he doing here in Mudhole if he is an American? And if he is from Alaska, how come he has no money? Aha!" Yes sir, that's him, that's your American. MAYOR What? From Alaska? "My American"? BOB The one you received your fax about, the billionaire. MAYOR No! What are you talking about? It can't be him. DOB It's him! He doesn't pay and doesn't leave. What other kind of foreigner would stay here, and for what reason? BOB Him, him! It must be him - the investor. He is so observant. Examines everything, notices us drinking -- because of Dob's stomach, he even peered in our glasses. So sharp I thought I was going to die. MAYOR Jesus Christ, in our "Golden Mud"! What room? BOB/DOB Under the stairs. The same room where the guys from the air base got into a big fight last year. MAYOR The storage room! Oh! No! Has he been here long? DOB Second week already. MAYOR What!? Two weeks! In those two weeks we had two labor strikes, eight anti-government demonstrations, joint communist- monarchists rally, anarchists' hunger strike, not counting street fights. DIRECTOR Well, Mayor, should we pay him an official grand visit? JUDGE Yes! The first to go are the children, the war veterans, the single mothers... MAYOR (Interrupting) No, no. Let me handle it my quiet diplomacy way. Everybody get busy. (To CHIEF) Get the car! No, wait. Stop! Let me brush my English. (Turns on the tape. Voice: "And now lets sing another beautiful song! Are you ready? Music! "Head and shoulders...")
ACT 2: Hotel "Golden Mud"
Scene I: American Hunger in Russia(Jo and Mister K, two beds, chairs) K Listen... JO What? K Go there. JO Where? K Down there, to the cafeteria. Tell them! Tell them to give me something to eat. JO What's the point? They said, no way. Period. K How dare they to refuse? I'm on credit! JO Exactly! That's why they want to call the police. "You with your American, they say, are the thieves, and your American is fake one. He will sit together with you, they said, in our jail very very soon." K They won't give me anything on credit and talk about a market economy! No transfer money by phone, no credit cards, no tickets, no planes, no trains, no phones! No nothing! And a poor American student must go on hungry in studying their rich Russian language! Communists! I have to eat something! Man must eat every day, money is another matter! Later, I said. My father will send me money from Fairbanks. May be he did send it already and I might receive them at any moment. JO "Later" I or you can die. Or both, or all of us. They could start building communism again or nuke your America. "Later" is time, not money. Later! You don't know Russia! K I love Russia, and you hate all Russian! You hate even your Russian name! JO Because I know them. That's why I don't want to know them. (Exits) K Food! They must! I'll go to the mayor! To the police!.. JO (returns) There are some people outside asking about you. Mayor and other officials... K About me? No, they have no right! I am an American! I will not go to jail! Tell them... JO No, thank you much, buddy. I am out of sight. Sorry and goodbye. (Exits) K (after JO) Jo! George! Joseph! (Door moves. Beds move. K runs around, packing)
Scene 2: Two Wrongs(K runs into MAYOR and DOB who enter, long pause) MAYOR How do you do, mister American? K Hello. MAYOR Excuse me... It is my duty, as chief official of the town, to see to it that travelers suffer no inconveniences... K (at first stammering a bit, but speaking loudly toward the end of the speech) It's not my fault. I'll... honest, I'll pay... They'll send money from home. (BOB peeks in from behind the door) Blame your Aeroflot, your rail road and bank system, your telecommunications, your government, not me! Why me? This is outrageous! MAYOR (frightened) I'm very sorry. If you don't like here, may I suggest you accompany me to other lodgings... K What?! How dare you? By what right? I know what you mean! You cannot throw an American citizen in your jail! I'll write to Moscow, to Washington! I, I, I... Even if you came with your whole police department, I won't budge! I'll talk to the president! To all the presidents! MAYOR Sir, forgive me, I have a wife, little children... K What? Just because you have a wife and children, I must go to jail? Great! MAYOR My inexperience, sir, merely inexperience. Everything is just falling apart. The country, our moral principles and infrastructure. Plus the insufficiency of my income - my salary isn't enough for instant coffee and baby food. Desperation and confusion, confusion and desperation! Don't ruin our dreams! The economy needs your investment, people are working unemployed. Communists could come back any minute. Today I'm a mayor, tomorrow a party chief again! Just think what it does to my brains! K Why are you telling me about all that stuff? Your income is a very different matter, but you can't imprison me. No, you're not big enough for that! And I'll pay, only I don't have any cash on me now. DOB (to Mayor) Oh, what a smoke screen! Millionaire - and has no money? He is testing us! MAYOR Money? Did you say - money? If you're in need of money or anything else, sir, I'm at your service. It is my civil and humanitarian duty to assist visitors to the town. K Really? You mean it? All right! Give, give me some money! (Taking the money, counting) Oh! Much, much obliged! I'll send dollars to you the minute I get home. DOB (to Mayor) Praise the Lord! He took the dough. Now we are sailing! K Jo! (Jo enters) Settle with the hotel. (JO takes money, exits) That's Russia! Now I see that you are true Russian souls. DOB (to MAYOR) You must be bolder, sir. He wants to stay undercover. MAYOR (to DOB) Fine. We can bluff too, as if we don't know who he really is. (To K) Dob and me - Dob is the businessman, total democrat and city councilman - since we were in the neighborhood on an official trip, we made a point of stopping in to determine whether the guests are being treated properly according to the Christmas spirit. Some mayors may not concern themselves with the welfare of humanity, but I, I insist that a good reception be extended to all races, minorities and animals. Not only because my position demands it, not because of duty, sir, but also out of my democratic love for every mortal. But may I ask, sir, what parts are you from? K Alaska. I am on my way home from Moscow. MAYOR Alaska? Our next door neighbor! Excellent! I imagine you're traveling for your own pleasure, sir? K No, I am a graduate student. But my dad sent for me. The old man is upset because I haven't gotten anywhere with my studies in Russia. Well, I'd like to see him scrambling in Russian universities for a while. DOB (to MAYOR) Just listen! A student! He's tough! He's even dragged in his old father! K My dad is stupid and stubborn as a log. I tell him straight to his face: I must travel! Go from one university to another! I want to see the world! To have my Ph.D. in everything. Why on earth should I waste my life in Alaska? MAYOR Very, very true, sir. What can be accomplished in the wilds? Our town, for instance; you spend sleepless nights doing your best for the nation, sacrificing everything, and as for reward - complains and insults. This room seems a bit damp? K Absolutely! And the management has turned off the light. I need to read, or to write my notes, and I cannot! MAYOR May I suggest, sir... Not being presumptuous, sir... I have an excellent room at home, but no, I fear the honor is too great. Don't' get angry, sir, believe me, in the simplicity of my heart I offered it. K On the contrary, by all means. I would much rather be in a Russian family than in this joint. MAYOR Oh how happy I am now! And my wife will be ecstatic! It has always been my way from my earliest childhood to put the Russian tradition of hospitality before everything, especially if my guest is a man of American culture, a professor! I'm not saying this to flatter you, no, I'm free from that vice, sir. Perhaps, you would like to see how things are running in our city... the management... (BOB pops his head in at the door) Our hospital, for example. Or we might proceed to the school and observe our methods of instruction in the sciences and foreign languages. Then you might wish to visit the city prison and the police station... K Police? The jail? I'd rather look at the hospital. MAYOR As you prefer, sir. (To DOB) We shall see how things will go after lunch and a couple bottles of vodka. (DOB runs to the door and hits BOB, who has been listening outside. All exclaim. BOB picks himself up) It's really nothing, sir. After you, sir. (Shows K. out and follows him, scolds BOB) Just like you, constitutional anarchists! Couldn't you find a proper place to flop? (Goes out, BOB after him. The furniture moves in) ACT III: MAYOR'S HOUSE SCENE 1: More or Less Millionaire (Mayor's home is his stolen castle: the same office furniture but with linen covers like expensive. A door opens and BOB, DOB and JO come in carrying one suitcase) JO Guys, where do we dump this? DOB Right here, brother. BOB No, over there is better. DOB You did it again, Bob. BOB What did I do? I did nothing! DOB You see! You do it all the time! BOB No, I don't. I never do this! DOB But you are doing it right now! You contradict! BOB No, I don't! It's my opinions! My principles! JO Hold on. Here. (They drop the case) DOB Exactly! BOB Perfect! DOB Tell me, friend, how soon your millionaire be opening his bank here? JO What bank? What millionaire? BOB Your boss. Who else? JO My boss? He isn't a banker. DOB He isn't? JO Well, he is - only the other way round. BOB Is that more than a millionaire or less? JO More. BOB I knew it! I knew it from the first moment I saw him! JO Look, guys, I see you are smart fellows. How about getting me something to chew. What do you have here? DOB Our mayor has everything. JO Great! I can eat anything of everything. Is there another way out of the room?.. (The three carry the suitcase into door. Another door moves also -- for mister K and his crowd, they sing together American children song) SCENE 2: American Dreams Mister K. enters, drunk, after him MAYOR, followed by DIRECTOR and SUPER. BOB and DOB also are rushing back from the guest room. K Excellent institutions! I like the way you show visitors everything in your town. In Moscow and St.Petersburg I was shown nothing. MAYOR If I may say so, in our capitals officials are primary concerned about their own interests, while here, I must say, we have no other thoughts but to deserve the world's attention by our vigilance and virtue. K Yes. The lunch was very nice. Do you have lunches like that every day? MAYOR Something special for our most welcome guest. A demonstration of our potentials. You see, we can offer what big cities don't have. Cheap quality of good living. K I'm crazy about good food. Where was it that we had lunch? Seemed like a hospital. DIRECTOR Exactly, one of our best institutions in town, in Siberia and Russia. K Yes, there were many empty beds. Have all the patients recovered? DIRECTOR All have recovered, sir. It's the organization, the management. Ever since I took control over there - you may think it incredible - they all get well like flies. A patient sooner sets foot in the hospital than he's cured. And it's not so much our medicines as honest and efficient administration. MAYOR Yes, such are the obligations that rack the brains of a mayor. So many matters rest on his shoulders: sanitation, repairs, civic improvements... Some other mayor, of course, would think only about his own benefits, but, I'm not after bonuses, of course, that's for God to decide, but at least I'll have a clear conscience. The central square is clean, the dead senior citizens are looked after, the drunks are in small numbers staying at home - what more could I ask? K Absolutely! I must confess, I like to philosophize myself - I think I have a Russian soul, gentlemen. BOB Did you hear him, Dob? He is ready to invest. (Sofa moves, door opens -- ANNA and MARY enter) MAYOR Oh, let me to introduce my family, sir. My wife and my daughter. K (posturing) How delighted I am to have the pleasure of seeing you. ANNA It's even greater pleasure for us to see so distinguished visitor. K Oh no, madam, not at all. It's far more pleasant for me. ANNA How can you! You say that only for the sake of a compliment. I understand, I imagine, after America, traveling through Russia must have been very distasteful to you. K Extremely. Accustomed as I am to moving in high society, in Moscow or Washington, and suddenly to find myself in the middle of nowhere - filthy hotel... If not for the good fortune... (Takes ANNA's hand) that makes up for everything. ANNA Do you mean it? We don't deserve it. Oh, your Russian is perfect! K Oh, your English is excellent! ANNA But I live in the Asiatic country... K But as I see Russia, too, has its wonders... (To All) Of course, there is no comparing it with Washington, New York or L.A.! That's the life. You may think I'm only a grad student. No, I'm on a friendly terms with the head of the East European desk at the State Department. He'll pat me on the back and says, "Come around to dinner, my boy!" During my internship I only dropped at the office for a minute or so, merely to issue instructions - this must be done this way, that must done that way. And before you know it, the clerks, poor rats, go scratching and scribbling away. They even wanted to promote me, but I said to myself, "What for?" But why are you standing, gentlemen? ALL (speaking together): In our position... we should stand... Such occasion... K Forget about ranks and international diplomacy! Sit down. (All sit) I don't like any ceremonies and stuff. In fact, I do my utmost, my very utmost to pass unnoticed. But it's impossible to escape attention. Simply impossible! As soon as I appear anywhere people shout, "There he is, there he goes!" Once in Washington I was actually taken for the Vice-President - the marines all came out of the White House saluting. ANNA No! How cute! K Yes, I'm known everywhere. Acquainted with all the movie stars. With Stalonne, Madonna, Cher. You see, I have written a few little things of all kinds for the stage, television and the Hollywood too. I'm in with the literary crowd. Very friendly with Norman Mailer. Often I'll say to him "Well, Norman, my boy, how goes it?" "So-so, my man," he would answer,"So-so." He's quite a character. ANNA So you write too? An author's life must be fascinating. K Oh yes, I am the author of lots of works - God Father, Rocky, Superman. I can't even remember all the titles. And it was all a mere chance - I had no intention of writing, but directors and producers said to me, "Come, write something for us!" Well, I thought, why not? And on the spot, in one evening I dashed them all off. My mind works with extraordinary speed. Everything published under the name of Stephen King - I wrote it all! I like to be published under different names, because I am very private man at heart. ANNA Then I expect "James Bond" must be yours. K But of course. ANNA I knew it all along. MARY But Mama, it says in the titles it's by Mr. Fleming. ANNA There you go again! Arguing even about this! K Oh, yes, that's true, the first one is by Fleming, but the rest of all the "James Bond" movies are mine. I must confess, I live for Art. My house in Los Angeles is the finest, my home in Washington is the best. Gentlemen, if you come to America, please, all come to see me, I give parties, you know. ANNA I can imagine the glitter and elegance! K Oh let me tell you! Champaign, caviar! I'm at some party every day of the week. The Canadian Foreign Minister, the French Ambassador, the English Ambassador, The German Ambassador and I play golf till we're exhausted. I'm barely able to drag myself up to my dorm... What nonsense I am talking - I forgot that I live in the mansion. You would be interested to see my reception hall in D.C. before I am even awake in the morning: there are ministers and diplomats jostling each other, bussing like bees - all you hear is bzz, bzz. Sometimes even members of the president's cabinet drop by. At one time I even ran a country. Very curious - the president had vanished, nobody knew where. Well, naturally, there was a lot of talk, "How will we manage?" "Who will replace him?" Many in the congress were eager and took it on - but as soon as they tackled it they saw that the job was too much for them. What seemed easy, but look deeper into it and it is a hell of a tough kind of job! They see there's no way anyone can manage it - so they run to me. And all at once politicians come racing, then more politicians, and more politicians... Think of it - thirty-five thousand politicians! "What's the problem?" I asked, "Sir, come and take charge of the government," they say. I must admit I was a bit taken aback. I came out in my robe, meaning to turn them down. But there, I thought... "Very well, gentlemen, I accept the post, I accept," I said, "so be it.," I said, "only with me, gentlemen, you had better look out! I won't stand for any nonsense. No, sir!" And, as a matter of fact, when I walked through the government offices you would think an earthquake had stuck - they were all trembling and shaking. Oh, I am not one to play games! Even Saadam Hussein, Castro and the United Nations are afraid of me. And well they might be! I am like that! No one gets in my way! I tell them all, "Don't teach me!" I am everywhere! Everywhere! I pop in and out of the White House. Tomorrow they're promoting me to the Chief of Staff! (Slips and almost falls. All support him respectfully) MAYOR (tries to speak) Your... yo... yo... yo... K (sharp, abrupt tone) What is it? MAYOR Y...y...y... K (in the same tone) I can make nothing of it. It's all nonsense. MAYOR You... your... yours... might wish to rest up... K Nonsense! But maybe I could use some rest. The lunch, gentlemen, was excellent. I'm satisfied, completely satisfied. Labardan! Labardan! (Retires, followed by MAYOR) SCENE 3: Shocked Russia Silence. Nobody moves. Only furniture. Stops. BOB (To DOB) Now that's a man for you, Bob. That's what I call a man. In all my life never I have been in the presence of such VIP. I nearly died. What do you think, who is he? DOB I think he must be a president' son or something like that. BOB And I think a president isn't fit to stand next to him, you heard how he bullies their congress? Let's run and tell everybody to invest immediately. (Both go out) DIRECTOR (to Super) Never mind the investment! What if he sobers up and whips off a report to Washington? SUPER Or Moscow! (DIRECTOR and SUPER exit together through one door) SCENE 4: Ladies Talk ANNA What a charming young man! MARY Oh! He's hot! ANNA What refinement! You can see at once a man made in the U.S.A. His manners and everything... Oh, I am awfully fond of young men like that! He seemed very much attracted, too, did you notice how he stared at me? MARY Oh, mother, he was looking at me! ANNA Don't be silly, my dear. It's quite out of the question. MARY No, he really was. ANNA What?! Why on earth should he look at you? MARY He was! He WAS looking at me. When he talked about Hollywood, he glanced at me, and also when he told about playing golf with the ambassadors he gave me a look. ANNA Oh well, perhaps once or twice, but only out of politeness. He must have said to himself, "All right, I might as well give her a look." MAYOR (entering on tiptoe) Shhh...sh-sh! I'm sorry I got him drunk. Suppose even half of what he said is true? And why shouldn't it be true? When a man's drunk, it all slips out. Sure, he stretched things a bit. But then, nothing is ever said without a little trimming. He plays golf with the ministers and is in and out of the White House... Oh, I feel as if I'm standing on the edge of an abyss or waiting to be hanged. ANNA And he didn't intimidate me at least. As far as I'm concerned, he simply is a man of the high society and European culture. His position and money doesn't interest me. MAYOR Oh really!? And let me tell you, honey! You behaved as freely with him, as though you had been talking to Dob or Bob. Oh how things are odd nowadays: you expect a man who looks the part, and you wind up with a skinny little jerk. With all his double talk I thought I'd never squeeze anything out of him. But he has given in at last. In fact, he said more than he need. You can see he's still young. Hush! (Walks on tiptoe) Not a sound! Get out! (ANNA and MARY go out) SCENE 5: Last Instructions (Enter CHIEF, armed and with American flags) MAYOR Sh! Where the hell have you been? CHIEF Acting on instructions, sir... MAYOR Sh-sh! (Claps his hand over CHIEF's mouth) Stop! Booming like a drum! Did you check his papers? His name? CHIEF As you suspected, a big shot! MAYOR What? CHIEF Kennedy. Kenneth Kennedy, sir. MAYOR I knew it! Its explain everything! Undercover, secrecy, lies! Kennedy! Alaska, Siberia-- he must be in oil or gold! Not a word to anybody! Put extra security, we have our own drunk terrorists and decedents. Don't allow any outsider into the house, especially any of the environmentalists, minorities, women, children, unions, businesses, state employees, senior citizens, religious groups, press, media and the rest! CHIEF Yes, sir! MAYOR Sh-sh! (Mister K is snoring. They listen. They walk out, stopping at moments of silence) ACT IV: Fun Time The same Mayor's house. SCENE 1: Lobbying Russian Way (JUDGE, DIRECTOR, EDITOR, SUPER, BOB, DOB) JUDGE (arranging all) Hurry, in line! The man is in and out of the White House, damn it. Bob, get over there, Dob stand here. (BOB and DOB run on tiptoe) DIRECTOR You may say what you like, but we ought to take some steps. The fish is too big. JUDGE What steps? DIRECTOR We all know what. JUDGE Slip him something? DIRECTOR Well, yes, let's say we slip him something into his hand. BOB To a millionaire? DOB Do you know why he is a millionaire and you are not? BOB Why? DOB Because they are greedy, that's why! They would take your last ruble, that's why! He is testing us, to see could we be his partners or not! JUDGE Investors! How do you invest? Who gives money in the open? Crazy! It's risky, damn it! But maybe in the form of donation for some American war memorial? EDITOR Or we can say, "Here, sir, we found this money in the mail." DIRECTOR Listen, these things are done differently in America. Why are we all here? We ought to pay one by one, behind closed doors, you know. You bribe him, he invests, you steal - and all're happy. That's the way to do things in democratic society! (To Judge) You go first. JUDGE No, you go first. After all, he got drunk in your hospital. DIRECTOR It would be more appropriate if the educator would go first. SUPER No, not me, gentlemen, I can't. If an important person, any VIP, speaks to me, I go to pieces. My tongue sticks in my throat. No, gentlemen, you must excuse me, you really must. (Footsteps and coughing in K.'s room. All rush to the other door, jostling and struggling to get out. Door moves. Several are jammed in the doorway. A few more cry, at last all squeeze out) SCENE 2: Dark Cloud (K enters in his underwear, JO after him) K Seems I can have a fun time around here... JO Our time is running out, man. K Especially when the Russians sincerely mean to please and aren't trying to squeeze something in self-interest... JO We'll get ourselves in trouble, I'm telling you. K And the mayor's daughter is not at all bad looking. Well, and the mamma too might still... JO I better go to check the next flight out of here. (Exits) (Doors move. K. opens one) SCENE 3: Bribes, Part II - Justice Boss JUDGE (stands still behind the door) I have the honor of introducing myself, sir, Judge of the District Court... K So you are the judge here? Do you find being a judge profitable? JUDGE After nine years of service, sir... (Extending his clenched fist with the money. Doors are moving closer) K What's that in your hand? JUDGE (drops the money) Nothing, sir. K What do you mean "nothing"? I see you've dropped some money. JUDGE (trembling) Not at all! Oh God! K (picking it up) Of course it's money. See - rubles. JUDGE In...vest...ment... K What? You know what? Lend it to me. JUDGE Certainly! Any time! Joint-venture! Thank you! K I'll send your dividends to you as soon as I get them. JUDGE Have you any orders to give me, sir? K (Counting money) What sort of orders? JUDGE I mean, will you be issuing any instructions to our district court, sir? K Why? I have no use for the court now. JUDGE The town is yours, sir! At your service! Any time! (Trying to get in the door, exits) K (Closes the door, puts money away) The Judge is a good fellow! SCENE 4: Press (Another door opens, EDITOR stands behind) EDITOR Sir, I am an editor-in-chief of the local newspaper "Little Mudhole World News Monitor"... K Ah! Please sit down. You have always lived here, I suppose? EDITOR Sir, yes, sir! K I like this town too, you know. Of course it's not a very big town - but why should it be? After all, it's not the capital. It isn't, is it? EDITOR Sir, correct, sir! K Only in a big city does one find the right spirit and no country bumpkins. Don't you agree? EDITOR Yes, sir, indeed, sir. K But one can live well in a small town too. Do you agree? EDITOR Yes, sir, exactly, sir. K After all, what does a man need? To be treated with respect and to be liked. That's true, isn't it? EDITOR Yes, sir. Perfectly true, sir. K I must say, I'm glad you agree with me. (Looking Editor over) So, how much would you like to invest? Three hundred or three thousand rubles? EDITOR Yes, sir, of course, sir. Three thousand. I'd consider it a pleasure. Three thousand. (Gets his money) K Good, very smart of you. Are you better now? EDITOR Sir, completely, sir. Have you observations to make with regard to the press, sir? K (counting money) No, none. (Closes the door and lighting a cigar) The editor is a very nice fellow, too... SCENE 5: Education Leader (Muffled voices off stage: "What are you afraid of? Don't freak out! Go!" K opens the third door. Here's SUPERINTENDENT) SUPER Super... intendent of... Schools... K Ah, come in! Would you care for a baby-cigar? SUPER I never expected anything like this. Should I take it, or shouldn't I? K Take it, take it. It's not a bad cigar. Of course, it's not what you find in the States. I smoke cigars that sell for twenty-five bucks each. One puff and you're licking your lips. Here, light it up. Hey, not that end! SUPER (panics, drops the cigar) Damn it! My damned shyness has ruined everything! K Ah, you are not crazy for little baby cigars. Not me! They are one of my weakness. Girls too. Oh yeah, I simply can't resist women. What about you, eh? Which do you like best, dark or blondes? Come on, be frank with me - what about your school girls? SUPER Sir, I have no opinion, sir. K No, no, don't turn it off! I must to know your taste. SUPER Let me report, sir... I have no idea what I am talking about. K Aha! A secret! I bet some pretty little brunette school teacher has crush on you! Does she? Yes? Ah! Blushing! You see, you see! Tell me, tell me! SUPER I'm s-s-scared, sir... K Scared? Oh yes, there is something in my eyes, indeed, something that inspires awe. At least I never met a woman who could resist them. Yes? SUPER Yes, sir, certainly. K So you would like to invest three hundred thousand? SUPER (clutching at his pockets) Three hundred thousand? Three hundred thousand rubles?.. K Or dollars, whatever you have. SUPER I don't have dollars... K Doesn't matter what currency. Four thousand rubles would be fine. Do you have four? SUPER I have, I have! (gives money) K Many thanks. Bye! (SUPER runs out, hits the door) SCENE 6: Medicine Man DIRECTOR (hits by another door) Sir, Director of the clinic... I had the honor of accompanying you... K Yes, I remember. Lunch was excellent. DIRECTOR Always glad to serve our friendly nations! K Wait, this morning it seems to me you were somehow a little bit shorter. DIRECTOR Quite possible, sir. I can say that I spare nothing of myself zealously performing my duties. (In low voice) But the local newspaper' editor does nothing at all - you might wish to investigate it, sir. The Judge, too - does nothing but chase rabbits, and as for his morals... may I be frank with you? Yes, he's a relative and friend, but for sake of our countries I'm obliged to do it - his conduct is most shameful. We have one guy -Dob Chinsky - and as soon as this Dob steps out of his house, the Judge pops in to visit his very wife, I am ready to take an oath... You just look at the children: none of them is like Dob, but every one, even the baby girl, is the spitting Judge. K No! I never would have thought it. DIRECTOR Now, the superintendent. It's beyond me how the authorities could have entrusted him with such a post: he's cramming the heads of our youth with subversive ideas - stuff too shocking to repeat. If you like, I can put all this in writing. K Excellent, in writing! I like it! You know I like something amusing to read when I am on the road... Would you happen to have five thousand on you? DIRECTOR Five? Yes, sir. Here, in one bill. K (Takes the money) How lucky! Good for you! Thanks. See you. (Slums the door after DIRECTOR) SCENE 7: Small Businessmen (Fight behind the door, BOB and DOB stuck in the doorway) BOB I have... DOB Sir... BOB Bob Chinsky... DOB Dob Chinsky... K Oh yes, we've met. Have you any money on you? DOB Money? K (loud and quick) Ten thousand. BOB Oh dear, not a such sum. Haven't you, Dob? DOB Not on me. All my money, my wife has. K All right, if you haven't got ten thousand, let me have five hundred. BOB Haven't you got five hundred, Dob? I have only forty. DOB (checking his pockets) Twenty five - that's all. BOB Search, search! You have a hole in your pocket, I know you do. DOB No, nothing in the hole. K Never mind! It's okey, sixty five will do. (Takes the money, closes the door) DOB (opens the door) Sir, may I ask your assistance about a very delicate matter. K What is it? DOB It's extremely delicate, sir. You see, I had my oldest son before I was married. K Really? DOB Though that's only in a manner of speaking, sir. He was born exactly as children of married people are born. And afterwards we did the proper thing, but you see, sir, I want him to be my legitimate son before God... K Fine. Let him be, that's all right. DOB I wouldn't trouble you, sir, I'm sorry, but he is so gifted! The boy can repeat all sorts of political jokes by heart. Bob can tell you. BOB Yes, enormous talent, sir. K All right, all right! It'll all be taken care of. (Closes the door) BOB (reopens the door) Sir, I have a very humble request too. I beg you, when you go back to your nation's capital, say to all those great men - senators, congressmen, and such, "Do you know that in Little Mudhole in Siberia lives a man called Bob Chinsky." K Oh? All right. BOB And if you have a chance to speak to the president, tell the president, "Do you know, mister President, in the town of Little Mudhole in Russia lives Bob Chinsky." K Very well, very well. (Closes the door) BOB/DOB (Behind the door) Sorry, sir, for troubling you. (All doors open by themselves - the officials behind, smiling. K slums them one by one) SCENE 8: Better Leave K (to JO outside) The place is stuffed with officials. Seems they take me for someone else. I must have told them something this morning. What a bunch of idiots! I really ought to write about them. (Begins writing in his notebook) But they are a good-natured bunch. How much I got? That's three hundred, six hundred, seven... what a greasy bill! Eight, nine hundred... thousand... (JO enters) K (shows him money) So, now you see, you idiot, how they treat me, the fuss they make over me! JO Yes, only know what? K What? JO Let's clear out. We'd better get away at high time. K (writing) Nonsense! Why? What for? JO Our luck may turn, and someone else arrive... K No, I want to stay here for a while. Tomorrow. Exchange the money on the street. (Gives him money) JO Tomorrow is no good. Let us be off, really. It's certain they've taken you for some big shot. K Oh, all right, all right. Did you get me a plane reservation? JO The Mayor's office did. I'd better pack right away. (Goes out) (The sofa moves to K. Music. Elvis again) SCENE 9: RusAmerican Romance MARY (enters) Oh! K Don't be frightened, miss. MARY I wasn't frightened. K Oh? But where were you going? MARY Really, I wasn't going anywhere. K And why, may I ask, aren't you going anywhere? MARY You were occupied with important business... K But your eyes are more important than any important business. You're incapable of disturbing me! On the contrary, you might offer me much pleasure. MARY You talk as they do on television in American movies. Oh, I ought to be going. (Sits down) K What lovely jeans! MARY Oh you, you are making fun of me. Anything to laugh at us provincial girls. K How I wish I were your jeans, that I might embrace you... (The sofa moves to them) MARY I don't understand what you are talking about... Funny weather we're having today. K I'd much rather speak to you of my love. Like in great Russian novels! (Drawing his chair closer) MARY Love! I don't understand love... I have never known what love means. (Moves her chair away) K Why do you move your chair away? It's more intimate sitting side by side. MARY (moving away) Why side by side? We can be intimate at a distance. K (moving closer) Why at a distance? We can be even more intimate side by side. MARY (moving away) But for what purpose? K (moving closer) Though we may appear to be side by side, pretend we're at a distance. MARY What bird was it flew up just now? Or an airplane? K Precisely. MARY No, that's too much! K It was unexpected love, it really was! MARY You think I am a common country girl... K It was Russian love, true romantic love. I didn't mean any harm, it was only fun. Don't be angry! Oh! I'll even get on my knees to beg your forgiveness. (Falls on his knees) See, I'm on my knees. (Door opens, ANNA listens behind, ANNA enters) ANNA Oh, good heavens! (to MARY) What's the meaning of this! MARY Mama, I was only... ANNA Leave the room! Out! Go! I don't want to see you! (MARY leaves in tears) ANNA I must apologize for her, sir. I was simply astounded... K (Throws himself on his knees again) Madam, you see me consumed by love. ANNA What, you are on your knees? Oh, get up, get up! The floor is so dusty. K No. On my knees. Absolutely! Oh baby, decide my destiny - will it be life or death? ANNA Pardon me, sir, I don't fully grasp the meaning of yours words. If I'm not mistaken, you're declaring your sentiments for my daughter? K No, I am in love with you. My life hangs by a thread. If you reject my undying love, I am not worthy of earthy existence. My heart ablaze, I ask your hand. ANNA But allow me to point out that I am in some sense married. K That doesn't matter! Love knows no barriers. We shall flee to America. Your hand, your hand! (The sofa moves, they are on the sofa. Doors open) MARY (runs in, out and in again) Mama... Papa... says... you're to... ANNA What do you want? What is it? Rushing in like a hot cat! No one would believe she's eighteen. When will you finally learn to conduct yourself properly? MARY (in tears) I didn't realize... K (Grabs ANNA's hand) Madam, don't stand in the way of our happiness! Give your blessing to our burning love! ANNA So it's her? K Decide! Life or death? ANNA (To MARY) There, you silly fool! It was you! It was for trash like you that he was on his knees! Bursting in here like some lunatic! Really, it would be right if I said No. You don't deserve such happiness. SCENE 10: Quick Engagement (MAYOR comes in breathless) MAYOR Have mercy, sir, don't destroy me. I know the citizens have been complaining. On my word of honor, not half of it is true... ANNA He's asking for your daughter's hand. MAYOR What? Are you nuts? Are you out of your mind? Forgive her, sir, she isn't very strong in the head, sir, her mother was the same way. K But I am in love. MAYOR I can't believe it, sir. ANNA Are you deaf? He just told you. K It's serious. I might go off my head from love. MAYOR I can't believe my ears. We don't deserve... K But if you won't consent to give me your daughter, God only knows what I may do... MAYOR I just can't believe it. You must be joking, sir. ANNA What an imbecile! Isn't he telling you so? K Her hand! Your hand! I am a desperate man, I may do anything! When I shoot myself, you'll have to answer for it! MAYOR But I didn't do anything. I'm innocent. Dot get angry, sir, do what you think best. My head at this moment is spinning... What's happening to me? I'm turning into a complete idiot. ANNA For heaven's sake, give them your blessing the way he wants! MAYOR God bless you, and don't forget, I'm innocent. (K and MARY kiss) What the hell! It's true! It's true! They're kissing. Holy cow, they're kissing! Hey, Mayor! Mayor! Hurrah for the Mayor! SCENE 11: Time to Leave JO (enters) The car is ready. I got the tickets. K Good. I'm coming. MAYOR What? Sir, are you leaving? K Yes, I'm on my way. MAYOR But... I mean... a wedding? K Ah, it's only for a moment... for one day, to see my uncle, a rich man. To get the money. I shall be back tomorrow. Back in a flash. Goodby, my love. (Kisses MARY) Farewell, darling! (Kisses ANNA) (ALL go out) MAYOR'S VOICE: When we are to expect you, sir? K's: Tomorrow or the next day. JO's: Here, this side! That will be fine! K's: By-by everybody! ACT V: Unhappy Ending SCENE ONE: Happy Hour (MAYOR, ANNA, MARY return) MAYOR Well, Anna, did you ever expect anything like this? What a catch, dammit! It's beyond your wildest dreams. From the wife of Mudhole' mayor to... damn it!.. to be related to a man of power! ANNA I knew it all along. It's extraordinary for you because you're just an ordinary Russian and have never mixed with people of quality. MAYOR (Drinks) I'm person of quality myself. But think about it - what high flying birds we are now, you and me! Eh! We are flying high now, dammit! Just wait and see - I'll make it hot for them, sneaking about with their complaints and petitions! Who's out there? (POLICEMAN enters) Get them all in here! I'll fix those idiots! Complain about ME? I want the name of everyone who came to grumble about me. And let them all know that this mayor's daughter's marrying the most important man in the world! (POLICEMAN exits) Anna, what's it going to be? Eh? Where will we live? In Moscow or Washington? ANNA In Washington, of course. How could we possibly stay here? MAYOR Then it's America. Well, what do you think I might come in for now? After all, he pals with the ministers and is and out of the White House. He can arrange for a promotion, even make me a congressman. What do you think, could I become a congressman? ANNA I should think so! Indeed you can. MAYOR Damn it! It'll be fun to be a congressman! Even in Alaska. Or any other place. ANNA Congressman of New York is more elegant. MAYOR So that's what you've set your heart on! You know why I want to be an American congressman? Secretaries and aides are everywhere, shouting, running around and officials are screaming -but you don't care a damn. You dine at a governor's, and - any mayor stands in your presence! And what do you do? Nothing! Just vote in congress! Ha-ha-ha! (Goes into a roar of laughter) Yes, dammit, that's what I like about being a congressman! SCENE TWO: Fantastic Future (JUDGE, DIRECTOR, BOB and DOB, SUPER, CHIEF enter) JUDGE (to Mayor): It's true, that you got such stroke of luck? DIRECTOR: Congratulations! Giant! Our American hero! CHIEF: Congratulation to you, boss, from the police department! JUDGE: Please, mayor, tell us everything, step by step. MAYOR Well, it came about in an extraordinary way. He made the proposal in person the old fashion style. ANNA He spoke beautifully. "Anna", he said, "I'm prepared to do anything out of respect for your rare qualities. Believe me, Anna, life without you isn't worth living..." MARY Oh mother! He said that to me. ANNA Hush! What do you know? Mind your own business! "Anna, I'm overwhelmed by you..." Oh, he said the most flattering things! I was about to replay, when he fell to his knees at once and spoke in such a passionate way, "Anna, do not make me the unhappiest of mortals! My life is in your hands." MARY Mama, really! He was speaking to me. ANNA Yes, of course. There was something about you too. I don't deny that. MAYOR He gave us quite a scare. Kept shouting, "I'll shoot myself, I'll kill myself!" ALL Is that so! Really? That's American! Crazy Alaskans! Well, I'll be damned! SUPER It must be fate. Or history! DIRECTOR Not fate, gentlemen. Fate has no hands, it's the reward of merit. (to Judge about Mayor) Some pigs have all the luck! CHIEF/POLICEMAN Good health to our mayor! (Drink) To Russian American friendship! (Drink) To our Alaska! (Drink) To American Siberia! (Drink) ANNA We are intending to live in the capital now. Washington, of course. The Russian atmosphere is too provincial. As for my husband, he will be promoted to the rank of American mayor or congressman. MAYOR Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I, I, dammit, I'd really love to be a mayor in Alaska or congressman in New York. Language isn't a problem I think. They will learn some Russian. JUDGE (To Super) A communist making himself an American! No way! There are must be better men around. (To Mayor) Hurray, Mayor! DIRECTOR (To Judge) What's more, he may even make it. He has conceit enough for it, the devil take him. (To MAYOR) You won't forget us then, mister congressman! MAYOR I am ready to do my best to support my home town. ANNA You are always ready to make promises, darling. To begin with, you won't have time for that sort of thing. And why in the world should you be bothered? You can't help all the small fry. (Doors move) SCENE THREE: Catastrophic News (EDITOR comes in breathless) EDITOR (holding K's notebook) Ladies and gentlemen, comrades, citizens, folks, prepare yourselves for a shock! The man we took for a millionaire- investor wasn't a millionaire or an investor. ALL: Not a millionaire?! Not an investor?! Not an American?! EDITOR Not at all - I've discovered it from his notebook. MAYOR What? What notebook? EDITOR HIS own writing! I couldn't help noticing the book! He forgot it in the airport. My first thought was, "He's writing about us. This is a historical document, I must have it!" Naturally, I took it. MAYOR How could you? EDITOR I don't know myself. A mysterious force urged me on. I couldn't let it go, I couldn't, I was simply drawn to take it. I seemed to hear a voice whispering in my ear, "Don't open it, you will be done for!" and in the other ear a devil whispered, "Go ahead, open it, read it!" I open it - and fire ran through my veins. I opened the last page - and turned to ice... yes, ice! My hands shook and everything went black. MAYOR How dare you read a private writing of such an important figure! EDITOR But that's the point, that he is not even a figure. MAYOR Then what is he, according to you? EDITOR He's a nobody, a nothing. The devil knows what he is. MAYOR What do you mean by nobody and nothing! How dare you say that! I'll have you arrested. EDITOR Who? You? MAYOR Yes, me! EDITOR Oh yeah? MAYOR Are you aware that he's marrying my daughter, that I'm to be a VIP myself, and that I'm about to pack you off to jail! EDITOR Oh, mayor, before talking jail you'd better let me read this! Folks! Shall I read it aloud? ALL: Read it, read it! EDITOR (reads) "The most amazing things have been happening to me. On my way home I got stuck in Siberia, missing my plane. The hotel management was set to have me thrown in jail, when suddenly the whole town took me for an American investor. It must have been my expensive pump shoes. So I'm staying at the mayor's, living it up, flirting like mad with his wife and daughter. I haven't decided who to start with. Probably the mother - she looks ready to go all the way right away. Everyone lends me as much money as I ask for. What oddballs! First and foremost the Mayor - as stupid as an ox... MAYOR Impossible! It isn't there! EDITOR (shows him the page) Read it yourself! MAYOR (reads) "As stupid as an ox." It can't be! You wrote it yourself. DIRECTOR: Read on! SUPER: Read! EDITOR (reads) "The mayor is stupid as an ox..." MAYOR Oh hell! Do you have to repeat it? We all know the words are there. EDITOR (goes on reading) Hmm...Hm... "as an ox. The newspaper editor's a decent fellow but..." Uh, there's something rude about me, too. MAYOR No! Read it! EDITOR But what for? MAYOR Dammit, if you're going to read, then read! All of it! DIRECTOR (puts on his glasses) Here, let me have it. (Reads) "The editor is the very image of our university janitor. The son-of-a-bitch must drink like a fish." EDITOR The miserable brat! He ought to be whipped and killed! DIRECTOR (reading) "The director..." Hm... EDITOR Why did you stop? DIRECTOR The handwriting isn't clear. Besides, anyone can see that he is a jerk. EDITOR Give it here! My eyesight's better than yours. DIRECTOR (holding on to the dairy) We can skip that part. It's more legible farther on. EDITOR No, read it all! Nothing has been left out before. ALL: Let him have it, give him the letter. Read it! DIRECTOR Just a minute. (Hands over the book, covering the passage with his finger) Here, start from here. (All crowd around) EDITOR (reads) "The director of the hospital is a pig in trousers" DIRECTOR It's not even witty. Were do you find a pig in trousers? EDITOR "The superintendent of school reeks of onions." SUPER So help me God, I never touch onions. JUDGE Thank God there is nothing about me. EDITOR (reads) "The judge..." JUDGE Oh, here it comes! Gentlemen, his writings are far too long! What's sense of reading such nonsense! SUPER No! Read on! DIRECTOR Every word! EDITOR "Judge is the ultimate fruit cake..." Hm, must be French. JUDGE God knows what it means. If it means "crook," well, all right. But it might be worse. EDITOR (reading) "On the whole, they are a hospitable folks. The Russians. I intend take up literature classes. I'll just have to devote myself to the higher calling." ANNA How shocking! It's a slap in the face! MAYOR He's slit my throat, from ear to ear. I'm finished, dead! I see nothing, nothing but pigs, pigs snouts everywhere - no faces! Nothing! Bring him back! Bring him down! EDITOR It's hopeless! He is flying over America by now! JUDGE But dammit, gentlemen, he borrowed three thousand from me! DIRECTOR And from me, too! EDITOR Me too. BOB From me and Dob - sixty five rubles!! JUDGE How could we have been so mistaken, gentlemen! MAYOR (slapping his own face) How could I?! My brains must gone soft with this new political age! Years of my Soviet service, and not a single bureaucrat, inspector or contractor put one over on me. I've cheated the cheats and swindled the swindlers. Thieves and frauds willing to steal from their own mothers fell into my clutches. Three party bosses in a row - I hoodwinked every one of them! ANNA I just can't believe it, darling. He's engaged to our Mary. MAYOR Engaged! Engaged! Stuff your engagement! (In a frenzy) Look at me, all look at me, I want the whole world, every nation, to look at me! See what a fool the mayor has been made! (Shakes his fist at himself) Oh you idiot! Taking that jerk, that worm, for a VIP! And now he is in the air, laughing and spreading the story everywhere. He'll turn you into the laughingstock of the whole world! What's worse - some scribbler will stick you into a comedy! That's hurts. And they'll all grin and clap. (To the audience) What are you laughing at? You, you're laughing at yourself! Ooooh! You sniveling liberals! Devil's seed! I'd tie you all in a knot, pound you all to a jelly and kick you down to hell! (Strikes out with his fist) What was there about that scatterbrain to make us take him for an investor? Nothing! Not that much! And yet everyone was suddenly yapping, "It's the millionaire! The investor! Inspector!" Who started the rumor? Who? DIRECTOR For the life of me, I can't explain it. We were in a fog. JUDGE You want to know who started it? I'll tell you who - these two geniuses! (Points at DOB and BOB. Furniture moves at them) BOB Not me, not me! It never crossed my mind. DOB Me either. I had nothing to do with it. DIRECTOR Of course it was you! SUPER They came running from the motel, raving like lunatics. "He's here, he's here, and he won't pay." MAYOR Damned liars! American agents! DIRECTOR The devil take you with your tales of an American investor! ALL: Idiots! Morons! Jerks! (All crowd around BOB and DOB) BOB I swear, it wasn't me. It was Dob! DOB Oh no, Bob. You said it first. BOB No, sir! You said "Aha" first! (Light blinks, everything moves, voice through loud speakers) VOICE: Mayor! Mayor! Sir, the government delegation with American investors has arrived from Moscow. They demand your immediate presence at the airport. Over. (Gogol: The words strike everyone like a thunderbolt. The ladies let out a simultaneous cry of consternation. The entire group change its positions suddenly and remains frozen) Voice on tape: "Now another American happy song. Together, please! "Itsi-bitsi spider..." DUMB SCENE: MAYOR stands in the middle like a post, his arms extended and his head thrown back. On his right hand are his wife and daughter leaning forward toward him, behind them, EDITOR transformed into the shape of a question mark addressed to the audience. Behind him SUPERINTENDENT in a state of innocent bewilderment. On MAYOR's left, DIRECTOR, his head inclined slightly to the side as if listening for something. Behind him, JUDGE, his arms extended, squatting almost to the floor, and moving his lips as if about to whistle or mutter, "We're in for it now, my friends!" BOB and DOB arms straining toward one another, mouths gaping, and eyes popping. The frozen group holds its position for almost a minute and a half.
THE HAPPY END
Film-North * Anatoly Antohin
© 2006 by vtheatre.net. Permission to link to this site is granted. books.google.com + scholar.google.com