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Let's Try This Again-- "The Red Crow"  Rate Topic 
 Posted: Mon May 11th, 2009 11:04 pm
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Joined: Wed Nov 19th, 2008
Location: New Jersey USA
Posts: 262
Hey All,

I posted this entire play a number of months ago under a different title, but I've made a great deal of revisions since. Now, I will start by posting only the first scene, and if anyone is intruiged enough to read furthur, they should email me ( for the Word document. The reason being that the formatting on this forum screws up my Playwriting Template set up and it is far too frustrating to reorder a 140-page play.

The Red Crow

Principal Characters

Ivan Pavlovich Kharlamov (Vanya) – a journalist of about forty-five years old.

Yekaterina Pyotrovna Kharlamova (Katya) - Ivan’s passive wife of 30 to 35 years.

Nicolai Pavlovich Kharlamov (Kolya) - Ivan’s younger brother, in his late thirties.

Pavel Andreyovich Kharlamov – Ivan’s and Nicolai’s father, in his late eighties.

Employer- the manager for the Pravda newspaper company in Moscow. Doubles as the Stranger.

Mr. Petrov- a financier in Moscow.

NKVD Officer- an official with the Soviet secret police.



Place- The play is set in Moscow, within the Soviet Union.

Time- 1938

Set- Ivan’s house reflects a family living within the upper sector of society. In the first act, the atmosphere is depicts a scene of modest wealth and prosperity. A desk, with a gun and leather-bound journal inside, are unusual additions to the scene. The rest of the sets are bleak and grey. As the second act progresses, the atmosphere of Ivan’s house becomes increasingly more claustrophobic and bare.


The Red Crow



(The lights fade on and IVAN’s house is shown. YEKATERINA is preparing the dining table for dinner. After a few seconds, IVAN bursts through the door.)

Ivan: I’m home!

Yekaterina: And not a moment too soon.

Ivan: I have the job.

Yekaterina: That’s wonderful.

(YEKATERINA moves over to IVAN and kisses him on the cheek.)

Yekaterina: When do you start?

Ivan: Tomorrow.

Yekaterina: Are you excited?

Ivan: Of course, Katya!

(IVAN moves to the dinner table, as YEKATERINA resumes setting it.)

Ivan: Why the fancy table sets?

Yekaterina: Your brother is coming over for dinner.

Ivan: Oh… You have never met him?

Yekaterina: Niet.

Ivan: He’s a very interesting fellow, if not a bit of a firebrand… But I’m sure you’ll like him.

Yekaterina: If you say so.

Ivan: What time will he be here?

Yekaterina: Soon. He’s probably down the road.

Ivan: Is that so? What have you been doing all day?

Yekaterina: The usual: cleaning and cooking.

Ivan: That doesn’t sound like an interesting day. Why don’t you do something that you’d enjoy?

Yekaterina: But I cook and clean for you.

(IVAN takes YEKATERINA and caresses her in his arms.)

Ivan: And your work is much appreciated around here, but--

(NICOLAI enters. He is animated, quick, and quite a hothead.)

Nicolai: Vanya!

Ivan: Kolya!

(IVAN and NICOLAI embrace each other.)

Ivan: How have you been?

Nicolai: I've been all right, Ivan. Where is your lovely wife you have told me next to nothing about?

Yekaterina: Good evening, sir.

Ivan: This is Yekaterina. (Turns to YEKATERINA) And this is my brother, Nicolai.

Nicolai: Pleased to meet you, madam.

(NICOLAI bows deeply and kisses YEKATERINA’s hand.)

Yekaterina: The pleasure is all mine. Dinner will be served shortly.

(YEKATERINA hurries offstage. IVAN and NICOLAI sit at the table.)

Nicolai: She is very attractive. When did you meet her?

Ivan: Seven years ago.

Nicolai: And you did not write to me about it?

Ivan: Come now, you know I cannot send you mail in our situation?

Nicolai: Chush' sobach'ya! Many times I received letters from you, though not about your beautiful wife.

(YEKATERINA hurries in with three bowls of soup and serves them out. She sits and everyone begins to eat.)

Ivan: This is very good soup.

Nicolai: Da, you are quite the cook, ma’am.

Yekaterina: Please, address me by name. It is more personal.

Nicolai: So, Ivan, how did you meet this fine young woman?

Ivan: Our being is a very curious affair: while I was lodging in Saint Petersburg, I began to make some very wealthy friends, one in particular, whose name escapes me. This wealthy friend owned a family of servants, and him being a horribly cruel man, often beat and abused his servants for pleasure. These servants did not partake in this man’s wealth; rather they lived on mere morsels, not even fit for a dog. One servant had a young daughter, nearly twelve years behind me, for whom I felt a great pity. I spent much time with her, and eventually we fell in love. I paid the friend to take the poor girl away from there, and back to Moscow with me. That underprivileged servant girl is Katya, who is now my wife.

Nicolai: And you call this man your friend?

Ivan: So how was Saint Petersburg? Did you rally the troops?

Nicolai: Oh, it was fine. Kinda cold.

Ivan: That’s fascinating. Excuse me for a moment.

(IVAN exits.)

Yekaterina: You were in Saint Petersburg?

Nicolai: Da. As a part of my new campaign.

Yekaterina: Campaign?

(NICOLAI is hesitant to speak. IVAN rushes in, worried and frantic, nearly tripping over himself. )

Ivan: Kolya, hide!

Nicolai: Huh?

Ivan: They’re coming for you.

Nicolai: Oh shit. Already?

(NICOLAI runs offstage. The NKVD OFFICER enters majestically and with a sense of purpose.)

Officer: Is this the house of Nicolai Pavlovich Kharlamov?

Ivan: Not anymore. He moved, and I don’t know where to if that is your next question.

Officer: Okay… he is not here, is he?

Ivan: No, sir.

Officer: May I check the rest of the house?

Ivan: No--

Officer: Excellent.

(The OFFICER tries to make his way offstage, but IVAN stops him.)

Ivan: Actually, I don’t think that’s such a good idea.

Officer: And why not?

Ivan: Because… um… he just left. There’s no point in searching.

Officer: I thought you said that he was not here?

Ivan: Umm… I lied.

Officer: I will not charge you for that misdemeanor, if you tell me where he was going.

Ivan: He turned a right just after exiting the building. I think he was headed to the train station.

Officer: Thank you. And a good day to you both.

(The OFFICER exits.)

Ivan: You can come back, Kolya.

(NICOLAI returns and takes his seat.)

Yekaterina: What was that about?

(NICOLAI is again hesitant to speak.)

Nicolai: I am what you might call a “counter revolutionist”. I work against the government and they want my head on a shiny, red plate.

Ivan: This is no talk for--

Nicolai: Some call me The Great Unmasker! I am the one who exposes their true faces-- I rip off their red masks to reveal their inner evil. Tear off the veils of deception in the country, you follow?

Yekaterina: “Veil of deception”? What are you saying? What are they masking?

Nicolai: As of late, GULAG has deported kulaks and anti-Soviet elements to labor camps in Siberia, in accordance with NKVD Order number 00447. What’s more, the government is aggressively trying to suppress dissidents, like myself. The “Great Unmasker” has troubles ahead of him…

Ivan: Is that not a good thing? I mean, who wants a bunch of instigating rebels running amok, spreading their anti- communistic beliefs?

Nicolai: We are just trying to make a change in the world. We do have a—-we should have a right to speak our minds.

Ivan: Is expressing your beliefs even worth risking a target on your head?

Nicolai: I’m different than the others. You know, Vanya, they need me; I mean I was one of them. Don’t be so pessimistic. The government won’t try to eliminate me!

Ivan: Do not be so naive, Kolya… Have you seen father lately?

Nicolai: Just last week I paid him a visit.

Ivan: How was he?

Nicolai: As stubborn and resilient as usual.

(IVAN nods his head and takes his empty soup bowl to the kitchen, offstage.)

Yekaterina: I’ve never met your father. What is he like?

Nicolai: You don’t need to know about him…

(IVAN returns to the table.)

Yekaterina: Excuse me; I’ll be right back.

(YEKATERINA stands up and walks offstage.)

Ivan (Whispering): Have you spoken to father of me?

Nicolai: No, but you should really pay him a visit. You know, to reconcile.

Ivan: Why?! What good will that do?

Nicolai: It can’t hurt to try.

Ivan: I’ll know just what he’ll do, exactly as he done for all the days I’ve stared into his cold eyes. He’ll deride me, scold me, and throw me away! I’ll go and see him on the morrow just to prove you wrong.

Nicolai: All I ask is for you two to make peace.

(The clock strikes the hour. YEKATERINA returns to her seat.)

Nicolai: Look at the time; I really must be getting on.

Yekaterina: But you have just arrived.

Nicolai: I am truly sorry, on another time. Maybe “The Great Unmasker” will get a day off.

Ivan: And maybe not.

Yekaterina: Well, it’s always a pleasure to have you.

Nicolai: And it was nice meeting you.

(NICOLAI kisses YEKATERINA’s hand and hugs IVAN.)

Nicolai: And remember, brother: everything will turn out fine.

(NICOLAI exits. YEKATERINA cleans up the table.)

Ivan: That was a most enjoyable evening.

Yekaterina: Your brother is quite the character.

Ivan: Most definitely.

Yekaterina: I’m not sure of his subversive nature, though.

Ivan: It is in his makeup. He cannot help who he is.


Yekaterina: Did you ever think of choosing a more prosperous woman than I?

(IVAN moves over to YEKATERINA and takes her in his arms.)

Ivan: I had my heart set on you the first day we met.

Yekaterina: You jest.

Ivan: No, I mean it. You are the only woman I could ever love.

Yekaterina: Even so, I feel I could do more for you…

Ivan: You can do no more for me than what you have been doing already. You cook, you clean, and you cheer me up when I am down! 

Yekaterina: Speaking of which…

(YEKATERINA feels IVAN’s back and shoulders.)

Yekaterina: You seem very tense.

Ivan: I could use some of your “comforting techniques” right about now.

Yekaterina: Well then--

Ivan: Let me just…

(IVAN walks offstage and returns in a moment.)

Yekaterina: What?

ivan: Just making sure the door is locked. Don’t want the officer to come back.

yekaterina: Why do you care? Nicolai is gone.

ivan: He may come for-- never mind.

yekaterina: For who?

ivan: I said never mind.

yekaterina: Tell me.

ivan: It’s nothing. Just… oh why did he have to come back?

(IVAN exits nervously. The lights fade out.)

(End of Scene)


Email me if you want more!


For some reason, I feel that this scene lacks something critically important in comparison with the rest of the play. Maybe its action or dramatic tension I'm not sure...


Last edited on Sat May 16th, 2009 02:27 pm by RTurco

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 Posted: Tue Aug 18th, 2009 09:30 pm
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2nd Post

Joined: Mon Jun 8th, 2009
Location: California USA
Posts: 47
Hey there RTurco, I just finished reading the first scene and would love to read the rest of it. You can send it over to:


So this is where I stretch out my fingers and start writing stuff!

One of the biggest complaints I hear about plays with foreign names, especially Russian ones, is that the names just want to make you explode (I'm going to ramble on for a bit so I've italizsed the rambling)

I was talking to the head of my theatre department once before a show and he told me how the play The Cherry Orchard is one that everyone is scared to do (my assumption was the duration). I didn't understand it, I mean I loved the play and had read it word for word at least twice.

So for one of my theatre classes we ended up having a section on readers theater. I was doing a reader's theatre interpretation of The Cherry Orchard with my group and everyone loved me up until they saw the first page and I think I now know part of the reason that the no one wants to produce it, the names. We ended up resolving the problem with... well... silly stuff such as renaming Lopakhin "Lopak" and connecting him to modern day terms, and the guy playing him got a bit of hip hop and started going on how he went from rags to riches and now everyone is playa hating on him.

However, thus far I haven't encountered this problem thanks to the small cast and lack of same later names/surnames/ what appear to be middle names.  So good job on that!

I agree with what you said with the plot needing a bit of a spark in the first scene. You always want to make an impact on your first scene, and adding a bit of spice is never wrong (just don't go overboard with it) I'd love to see what you meant by that it didn't tie in with the rest of the play.

My critical response:

Also, when Ivan is describing about how he met his wife, he sounds like he's monologuing or reading a letter and the manner in which the officer is tricked seems a bit unrealistic, would the reds really give up that easily, especially after a person lied to them? You can add a bit more spice to that, you've got two characters in a kitchen, one of whom is an attractive female, you can use more than just words.

I'm not quite familiar with the way Russians live, nor how they were during that time period. I'd take an intercultural communications book and/or speak to someone with Russian ancestors and interview them about the way they speak, move about, etc. I can't give a response because, again, I don't know how Russians are but if your vent is realism, that would be a neat thing to have in your play; characters with actual Russian traits, emotions, and everything that makes them human.


The stuff that wow'ed me!

I loved that little passage in which Nicolai calls himself "The Great Unmasker", it's perfect.

The theme seems like it's going to be really awesome. Rarely do you see people writing against communism, a lot of people just go on a rant proclaiming how it's "a perfect utopia". Great job, way to break those walls!


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 Posted: Wed Aug 19th, 2009 01:16 am
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Joined: Wed Nov 19th, 2008
Location: New Jersey USA
Posts: 262
Hey Clausey,

Glad you took the time to read my play! Not many seem to have taken an interest. I will send you the word document shortly.

Note also, that I have changed much of the opening scene, as well as the rest, since this post was uploaded, so don't skip what you think you may have read. I believe there is some humor in it and Nicolai's "Great Unmasker" speech is moved to a different scene.



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