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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

LOVE AND DEATH: Clash of Cultures in 4 Acts

Act I: A Manhattan street. Spring. Evening. Enter IGOR and KSYUSHA, husband and wife, youngish, robust, Brooklyn residents since emigrating from Russia several years earlier. They meet up with ROBIN, their new acquaintance, a somewhat weary American visiting from Russia.

Ksyusha: Manhattan! Incredible. Remember, Robin, tonight you're completely in charge. You're like our tour guide. We don't know anything.

Robin: I don't actually live here.

Ksyusha: But you're opening up a whole new world for us! What street is this, for example?

Robin: This is Broadway.

Ksyusha: Igor, did you hear that?

Robin: How long did you say you've been living in New York?

Igor: Seven years.

Act II, Scene 1: A standard New York pub. Booth. Menus.

Ksyusha: Robin, this is great! You must come here all the time.

Robin: Well, no. I live in Russia.

Igor (muttering): There's nothing to eat here. What can I eat here?

Ksyusha: Robin, this is an amazing place, simply zdorovo. I love it!

(Pause.) Let's go to Brooklyn.

Act II, Scene 2: Same pub, same booth. Drinks.

Ksyusha: I'm glad we decided to stay in the city. It's an adventure! But you're our host, Robin. You should order for us.

Robin (warily): Um. OK. What sort of things do you like?

Ksyusha: I love almost everything. But there are some things that I can't stand at all. Things that make me sick.

Robin: Things like what?

Ksyusha: No, no, no. Whatever you order I'm sure will be wonderful. I'm not afraid. (Gestures at husband.) Igor isn't either.

Igor (dabbing at lap with napkin): This is the second gin and tonic you've knocked over tonight.

Ksyusha: Well, get me another one. Anyway, Robin, tomorrow we'll go to Brooklyn and then we'll order your food. But tonight we're in Manhattan. Tonight you're the boss.

Robin: In Manhattan, people usually order their own food.

Ksyusha: Remember, there are some things I really don't like. Try to guess what they are.

Act II, Scene 3: Pub. Booth. Ordered food going cold.

Igor: Look at Robin. So serious. Never smiling.

Robin (smiling): What's the matter, don't you like your food?

Ksyusha: It's delicious! But I'm not hungry. Why don't you tell us what you think about Russians?

Robin: Well, I think they're very ?

Ksyusha: Because it's a candy-coated world you live in. And we Russians are like crazy carpenters, stripping off that candy coat like varnish and leaving you Americans standing naked on the porch.

Robin: Your English is very good.

Act III: KSYUSHA has stepped outside; ROBIN and IGOR remain at the table.

Igor: You know, being married is very difficult. Ksyusha is my third wife.

Robin: How's it working out?

Igor: What can I say? It's not so bad. I can't really say I love her a lot.

Robin: That doesn't sound very romantic.

Igor: Marriage is more bad than good.

Robin: Then why keep doing it?

Igor: You have to keep trying. What am I going to do, live by myself?

Ksyusha: I'm back!

Igor: What happened, did you pass out in the bathroom?

Ksyusha: I was SMOKING. And now I'm ready for some of this incredible Manhattan food. Robin, order me something that I'll think is delicious.

Robin (feebly): Waitress ?


Act IV: Several hours later, still at pub. KSYUSHA polishing off grilled salmon. IGOR and ROBIN staring into distance.

Ksyusha: Robin, how much of this conversation tonight has been honest?

Robin: Uh ? all of it?

Ksyusha (smiling, vindicated): Wrong. I wouldn't even say 50 percent.

Robin (evenly): Really.

Ksyusha: I see you, with your candy-coated American smile. I know you don't mean half of what you say.

Robin: Before you said I wasn't smiling enough!

Ksyusha: Now she's getting mad! This is real! This I like!

Robin: Goodbye.