In this charmingly sardonic mashup, Dashiell Hammet’s hard-boiled, glamorously pickled American sleuths, Nick and Nora Charles, meet their cousins, the stoic inhabitants of Chekhov’s bleak Russian tundra. Naturally, a murder, and hilarity, ensues. Can Nick solve the crime before they run out of vodka?
Full length, approx. 100m, one intermission.
MADAME (MME) RANEVSKAYA (50s) – Matriarch of the family. Elegant and refined in appearance. She is a spendthrift, and dirt poor, but wants to hold on to any shred of dignity left in her.
ANYA RANEVSKAYA (20s) – MME. Ranevskaya’s youngest daughter. Hopeful, impulsive.
VARYA RANEVSKAYA (20s) – MME. Ranevskaya’s adopted daughter, a few years older than Anya. Anxious, protective.
PETER TROVIMOV (30s) – Perpetual student and philosopher. Former tutor to MME. Ranevskaya’s son and former paramour of Anya.
SIMON SMIRNOV (30s) – Caretaker of Cherry manor. Overworked, anxious and slightly bitter. Secretly in love with Varya.
NICK CHARLES (40s) – The world famous detective. Witty and urbane. Devoted to his wife.
NORA CHARLES (40s) – A charming and witty sophisticate. Independently wealthy and madly in love with her husband.
INSPECTOR IVANOVICH (40s-50s) – Career law enforcement officer. Ineffectual, arrogant and stiff.
PLACE: A suburb in Russia, not too far from Moscow.
SETS AND LIGHTING
Single interior set; Most of the action takes place in a living room; Lighting changes should suffice for two scenes, an outdoor bench and the interior of a train compartment.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Nick and Nora (of “The Thin Man” fame) are the perfect sophisticated couple. They drink a lot but should never appear drunk (hung over, yes, but never drunk). Their banter with each other is teasing and light-hearted, never angry. They speak in the quick, snappy mode of 1940s screwball comedies, in direct contrast to the Chekovian characters, but they clearly adore each other.
Would you like a taste? Here’s an excerpt.