In Moscow, in 1926, a housing crisis rages. In a cramped apartment, Ludmilla, a put-upon housewife, lives in dreamy complacency with her cheerful despot of a husband, Kolya. When one day, Kolya's handsome comrade, Volodya, arrives from the country, but can find no lodgings, Kolya offers him their sofa. When Kolya returns early from a business trip, he is shocked to discover that Ludmilla and Volodya have become lovers. Kolya moves out, but there is still nowhere to live, so he reluctantly returns, taking the sofa, leaving Ludmilla and Volodya the bed Kolya stalls the new couple's lovemaking with endless games of checkers, so that slowly, to Ludmilla's frustration, Volodya becomes more interested in the manly sport of checkers than in sex. Finally, Volodya reveals himself to be just as much a domestic despot as Kolya. So Ludmilla banishes Volodya to the sofa and takes the bed for herself. Ludmilla's "marriage" to the two men has already had its consequence as she is pregnant. The two men bicker over who is the father and finally decree: Ludmilla must have an abortion. Acquiescing, Ludmilla waits her turn in a frighteningly efficient clinic. But seeing a living, breathing baby out the window convinces her to leave, without the procedure. She packs up and abandons her two "husbands," declaring them unworthy to be fathers, and Kolya and Volodya find themselves alone in the dose Moscow flat. They have no choice: as Ludmilla rides alone into the exciting unknown. Kolya takes the bed and Volodya the sofa.
It is a sung-through and highly stylised piece, with an offstage voice working in much the same way as the caption cards did in the silent film version. It was a quirky and unusual piece and received a mixed critical response.
Based on the 1927 Russian silent film classic “Tretya meshchanskaya” by Abram Room
Génèse du musical
this was first seen off-Broadway in February 1996 where it won two Obie Awards and received seven Drama Desk nominations, including Best Musical.
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