THE STORY: 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 close Moscow flat. They have no choice: As Ludmilla rides alone into the exciting unknown, Kolya takes the bed and Volodya the sofa.
One of the most acclaimed productions of its season, this enchanting three-character “silent movie opera” based on Abram Room’s scandalous 1926 Russian film comedy, premiered at the Vineyard Theatre in New York, where it received an Obie award for its composer, Polly Pen (Goblin Market), and seven Drama Desk nominations, including Best Musical. With witty book and lyrics by Laurence Klavan (Freud’s House, Sleeping Beauty, Gorgo’s Mother). “A delight! First rate! A classy treat! A new work that both honors the original and gives it a sternly funny stage life of its own.” —NY Times. “Wonderful! A must see! So perfectly done it is almost unfair to the rackety hacks who infest our musical theater.” —Village Voice. “Enchanting! Exquisite! A wholly original piece of musical theatre!” —NY Newsday. “Fresh and endearing! As original as it is impudent! The show has jaunty music by Polly Pen and a jazzy text by Laurence Klavan.” —NY Magazine.