PETYA PEROV (1)—one-year-old boy
NINA SEROVA (8)—eight-year-old girl
VARYA PETROVA (17)—seventeen-year-old girl
VOLODYA KOMAROV (25)—twenty-five-year-old boy
SONYA OSTROVA (32)—thirty-two-year-old girl
MISHA PESTROV (76)—seventy-six-year-old boy
DUNYA SHUSTROVA (82)—eighty-two-year-old girl

Big bathtub in the living room, the children are all bathing

PETYA PEROV (1) (one-year-old boy): Will there be Christmas? There will be. Yet suddenly there will not be. Suddenly I will die.

NANNY: Wash yourself Petya Perov. Soap your ears and neck. You can’t talk yet.

PETYA PEROV (1): I can talk inside my thoughts. I can cry. I can laugh. What do you want?

VARYA PETROVA (17): (seventeen-year-old girl) Volodya, scrub my back. God knows moss has grown on it. What do you think?

VOLODYA KOMAROV (25): (twenty-five-year-old boy) I don’t think nothing. I burned my belly.

MISHA PESTROV (76): (seventy-six-year-old boy) Now you will have a blot. Which I know nothing will remove. Ever.

SONYA OSTROVA (32): (thirty-two-year-old girl) You, Misha, are always wrong. Remember what you said about my breasts? Now look.

DUNYA SHUSTROVA (82): (eighty-two-year-old girl) Brag-ging! You bragged about the buttocks, and now the breasts! God in Heaven what next?

SONYA OSTROVA (32): You hurt me. Fool, idiot... slut!

NANNY (waving an axe): Sonya, if you keep cursing, I will tell your father and mother, I will kill you with the axe.

PETYA PEROV (1): And you will feel for a brief flash how your skin splits open and how the blood spurts out. What you will feel next is not known to us.

NINA SEROVA (8): (eight-year-old girl) Jesus bless us, Sonyetchka, that nanny is crazy or criminal. She would do anything. Why did they hire her?

MISHA PESTROV (76): Children, quit quarreling. Nobody will live to see Christmas this way. The parents have bought candles, candies, and matches—matches to light the candles.

SONYA OSTROVA (32): I don’t need the candles. I have my finger.

VARYA PETROVA (17): Sonya, don’t persist in this. Don’t persist. Clean yourself better.

VOLODYA KOMAROV (25): Girls have to wash more often than boys or they stink like codfish. That’s what I think.

MISHA PESTROV (76): Stop squabbling! Tomorrow is Christmas and we will all be celebrating.

PETYA PEROV (1): Only I will sit in the arms of the guests in turn, with a serious and stupid look, as if I understood nothing. I and invisible God.

SONYA OSTROVA (32): And when I enter the hall, when they light the Christmas tree, I will hold up my skirt and show everything to everybody.

NANNY: No, you won’t. You have nothing to show—you are still little.

SONYA OSTROVA (32): No. I will show it. I still have a little one, this is true what you say. This makes it even better. Not like the one you have.

NANNY: Oh, that’s it! (takes the axe and chops off her head) You deserve this, Sonya.

CHILDREN: (screaming) Murderer! She is a murderer. Save us. Stop the bath!
(the dog howls, everyone is screaming bloody murder, the head and body lie on the floor, there is a clanging noise, the police enter)

POLICEMAN 1: (looking around) What!? Where on earth are your parents?

CHILDREN: They are at the theater.

POLICEMAN 2: They left a while ago then.

CHILDREN: A while ago, but not forever.

POLICEMAN1: What are they watching, a ballet or a drama?

CHILDREN: Must be a ballet. We love our Mama.

POLICEMAN2: Such cultured people. We see a cadaver. And a head disengaged. Here is a person lying quite ineffectively. Herself not entirely whole. What happened here?

CHILDREN: Nanny killed our sister dear with the axe.

POLICEMAN1: And where is the murderer?

NANNY: I am here in front of you. Tie me up. Lay me down. Execute me.

POLICEMAN1: Could we have some light?

CHILDREN: But the light burns so shamelessly.

NANNY: Sentence the horse. Pity my remorse.

POLICEMAN1: Why sentence the horse if the horse is not guilty of this bloodshed? Seldom do we find a guilty horse.

NANNY: I am mentally deranged.

POLICEMAN2: Hurry up, get dressed. They’ll decide over there. You’ll go through examination by the experts. Put the handcuffs on her.

CHILDREN: (in awe) A murderer. Handcuffs.

POLICEMAN1: Hurry up, hurry up, let’s go. Good-bye children.

(A knocking at the door. Puzyrov father and Puzyrova mother rush in. They are mad with grief. They shout, bellow, and bark horribly. The clock shows midnight)


(A forest, pine trees and snow. In the forest woodcutters chop down

Christmas trees and sing a song. The clock shows 9pm)

How pleasant in a wood
How bright the snowfall
Pray as we all should
That tomorrow’s child will call

The silent, lovely trees
Lie on the horses backs
The children laugh like angels
And in their sleds make tracks

Tomorrow is Christmas Day
And we ordinary folk
To toast it, shout “hooray”
And drink until we choke.

God watches from on high
Knowingly he smiles,
A tear falls from his eye
As we trudge these lonely miles.

FYODOR: (to the other woodcutters) Ah, I’m going to tell you something now. You don’t know this. I have a fiancee. She works for the big Puzyrov family. She really is a honey. I love her very much. She and I are already living as man and wife. (the woodcutters make a sign but are mute)

FYODOR: But she is very nervous, my fiancee. Can’t do a thing about it. Hard job. Big family. Lots of children. Nervous! Can’t do a thing about it.


WOODCUTTER: 2: Suspenders!

FYODOR: So now I will bring the tree, and at night I will go to her. She has bathed the children and is waiting for me now. Can’t do a thing about it. (Fyodor and the woodcutters leave with their sled. A giraffe, a Wolf, A Lion, and a Piglet appear)

GIRAFFE: The clock is ticking.

WOLF: Like a herd of sheep.

LION: Like bulls on the hillside.

PIGLET: Like the deep sea fishes.

GIRAFFE: The stars shine.
WOLF: Like the blood of sheep.
LION: Like the blood of bulls.
PIGLET: Like mothers milk.

GIRAFFE: The rivers flow.
WOLF: Like the innocent sheep.
LION: Like the sayings of bulls.
PIGLET: Like the winged goddess.

GIRAFFE: Where is our death?
WOLF: In the souls of sheep.
LION: In the souls of bulls.
PIGLET: In the ships that float.

GIRAFFE: Thank you very much. That’s all for today. (The animals leave. The clock shows midnight)



(Night. Candles, the living room with a couch and the coffin on the table showing Sonya Ostrova’s body and her head still quite removed. Puzyrova and Puzyrov mourn. The clock shows 2am)

PUZYROV: (crying) My little Sonya, how can this be? How can it be/ In the morning you were still playing with the ball and running around as if you were alive.

PUZYROVA: Sonyetchka. Sonyetchka. Sonyetchka. Sonyetchka. Sonyetchka. Sonyetchka.

PUZYROV: The devil made us go to the theater and watch that silly ballet with wooly fat-bellied dancers. As I now recollect, one of them, jumping and prancing, smiled at me. I thought, why do I need her: I have children, I have a wife, I have money, but I was so exhilarated, so exhilarated. Then we left the theater, and I called the coachman and told him: Vanya, drive us home fast—my heart tells me something is wrong.

PUZYROVA: (yawning) Oh cruel God, why are you punishing us?

PUZYROV: (blowing his nose) We were like a flame and now you are extinguishing us.

PUZYROVA: (checking her face in the mirror) We wanted to celebrate Christmas for the children.

PUZYROV: (kisses her) And we will celebrate, we will. No matter what.

PUZYROVA: (lays down on the couch) Oh we will have a Christmas tree, the Christmas tree of all Christmas trees.

PUZYROV: (he lies down with her) You are my beauty, and the children are all such sweethearts.

PUZYROVA: (giving in to him) God, why does the sofa creak so? How awful this is.

PUZYROV: (after a climax) God, our daughter has died and here we are like beasts.

PUZYROVA: (cries) Didn’t die, didn’t just die, she was killed! (A Nanny enters carrying one-year-old Petya Perov)

NANNY 2: The boy woke up. There is no peace in his soul. He is frowning. He’s judging everything very harshly.

PUZYROVA: Sleep Petenka, sleep. We are keeping you safe.

PETYA PEROV: (1): But is Sonya still dead?

PUZYROV: Yes, she is dead. Yes she was killed. Yes, yes, yes.

PETYA PEROV: (1): I thought so. So, will there still be Christmas?

PUZYROVA: There will be, there will be. What are the children doing now?

PETYA PEROV: (1): All of us are sleeping right now, and I am falling asleep too. (he falls asleep)
(the nanny takes him to each, they kiss him goodnight, then the nanny takes him away)

PUZYROV: You stay alone for a while by the coffin. I will be right back. I’ll go see... I think the tree has come. (he runs out of the room) We need more candles, these are sinking into oblivion. (He bows deeply to the coffin and to Puzyrova and exits on his toes)

PUZYROVA: Sonyetchka, you know, as we were climbing the stairs, a black crow was flying above me all the time, and I felt my heart twisting with sorrow, and when we came into the apartment, and when the servant Stepan Nikolaev said. “She was killed, she was killed,” I did not cry out mournfully. I was frightened. I was so frightened, and anxious.

(The door opens wide, Puzyrov enters followed by Fyodor and the woodcutters carrying the Christmas tree. They see the coffin and bow low.)

PUZYROV: Quiet my boys, quiet. Here is my little daughter-girl who has breathed her last. It’s even worse than that, her head is completely separated from her body.

FYODOR: You are speaking about grief to us, but we are bringing happiness. Here we have brought the Christmas tree. Maybe it will improve the mood in here.

WOODCUTTER 1: A fruit.

WOODCUTTER 2: An epistle to the Greeks.

WOODCUTTER 3: (shouts) A person is drowning, save him! (All leave except for Sonya Ostrova)

THE HEAD: Body, did you hear it all?

THE BODY: Head, I heard nothing, I have no ears. But I felt everything. (The clock shows 3am)



(Police station. The clock shows midnight. The clerk and the constable are sitting at desks)

CLERK: Sealing wax always has hot lips. The quill pen has beautiful hips.

CONSTABLE: I am bored. clerk.
I stood guard all day, eclipsed.
I froze. I shivered. And nothing matters to me.
Wandering rain and pyramids
Egyptian in sunny Egypt.
Amuse me.

CLERK: You constable, I see, have lost your mind. Amuse you? I am your boss!

Pharmacies, taverns, and houses of ill repute
will one day drive me mad and dissolute.
Instead of taking poisoned people to the pharmacy,
I’d prefer to sit in a nice library
And read passages of Marx, and dream,
And in the morning, drink not vodka but cream.

CLERK: And what happened to that drunk? Is he still swinging?

CONSTABLE: He is swinging like this pendulum
And the milky way is swinging above him.
How many there are of these toilers of the sea,
Outcast folk and peasant serfs. (Police chief enters)

POLICE CHIEF: Everyone stand. Clear the deck. Pray to God. Pray to heck. Right here, right now, they’re bringing in a criminal! (Soldiers, serfs, cooks, police drag in the nanny who killed Sonya Ostrova)

POLICE CHIEF: Let her go. Who is this?

NANNY: My hands are covered with blood. My teeth, my teeth are covered, covered with blood. God has abandoned me. I am mentally deranged... (in a reverie) Ah! She is doing something now.

POLICE CHIEF: Who are you talking about? Don’t ramble. Give me some vodka. Who is it?

NANNY: (still in a reverie) Sonya Ostrova, whose head I cut off. She is thinking something now. I am cold. My stomach hurts, and my head.

CLERK: And still young! And still not bad looking. And still even beautiful. And still like a star. And still like a string. And still like a soul.

CONSTABLE: I can imagine your situation,
You killed the girl with the axe.
Now your soul suffers mutilation,
A spiritual parallax.

POLICE CHIEF: So, Nanny, How is it? How does it feel? Is it agreeable to be a murderer?

NANNY: No. It is quite difficult.

POLICE CHIEF: You know they’ll execute you, my God they will.

NANNY: I bang my fists. I bang my feet. Her head is in my head. I am Sonya Ostrova—the nanny cut my head off! Fedya-Fyodor save me!

CONSTABLE: Once I remember, I stood on guard in a bitter frost.
People walked by, animals ran wildly.
A cloud of Greek horsemen passed by on the boulevard like a shadow.
I blew a loud whistle, calling all the janitors to attention.
For a long time we all stood looking through the telescopes.
Putting our ears to the ground, we waited for the clatter of hooves.
Vainly and idly we looked out for the army of horsemen.
Alas there was none, we departed sadly for our homes.

POLICE CHIEF: (beside himself) Why have you told us this? I am asking you! Fool! You know nothing about the civil service.

CONSTABLE: I wanted to distract the murderer from her dark thoughts. (There is a knocking)

CLERK: These are the medics. Medics, take her to the asylum.

MEDICS: (with a net) Who do we take? (confusion, several false starts, they leave with the nanny. The clock shows 4am)



GROUP of mental patients in a rowboat

(Asylum. A doctor stands in front of a mirror pointing a gun)

DOCTOR: God how terrifying. Everyone is crazy around here. They haunt me. They devour my dreams. They want to shoot me. Here is one of them. He sneaked up and is aiming at me. He aims but he doesn’t shoot, he aims but he doesn’t shoot. He doesn’t shoot, he doesn’t shoot, he doesn’t shoot, but he aims. So I will shoot. (gunshot. The mirror shatters)

ATTENDANT: (entering) Who fired the cannon?

DOCTOR: I don’t know, probably the mirror. And how many of you are there?

ATTENDANT: (mysteriously) There are many of us.

DOCTOR: Now now. I’m still a bit shaken from my confrontation. Somebody has been brought in.

ATTENDANT: The nanny-murderer has been brought in from the precinct.

DOCTOR: Is she as black as coal?

ATTENDANT: (screams) You think I know everything?

DOCTOR: What to do? I don’t like this little rug. (he shoots it. The attendant falls down dead.) Why did you fall? I shot the little rug, not you.

ATTENDANT: (he gets up) It seemed to me that I was a little rug. I was mistaken. This nanny says she is mentally deranged.

DOCTOR: That’s what she says, we don’t say that. We won’t say that without reason. I, you know, hold all our garden with all its trees and underground worms and silent clouds, all its door knobs and bratwurst, right here, right here—what do you call it? (he points to the palm of his hand) Right...




DOCTOR: No. In… in the palm of my hand. That’s it. So, bring in this nanny. (Nanny comes in)

NANNY: I am mentally deranged. I have killed a child.

DOCTOR: It is not good to kill children, but you are healthy.

NANNY: I did not do it on purpose. I am mentally deranged. I should be executed.

DOCTOR: You are healthy. You have color in your face. Count to three.

NANNY: I can’t.

ATTENDANT: One. Two. Three.

DOCTOR: You see, and yet you say you can’t. You have a constitution of iron.

NANNY: I am completely desperate! I didn’t count, your attendant did.

DOCTOR: At this point that would be difficult to prove. Do you hear me?

ATTENDANT: I hear you. I am the nanny, I must hear everything.

NANNY: God, my life is ending. Soon I will be no more.

DOCTOR: Take her away and bring in the Christmas tree. (woodcutters bring in a tree) Thank God, that’s better. Just a little bit jollier. I am sick and tired of being on duty. Good night.

(Patients row from the hall into the room in a rowboat, pushing the oars against the floor.)

DOCTOR: Good morning patients, where are you going?

PATIENTS: Out to pick mushrooms and berries.

DOCTOR: Very good.

ATTENDANT: I’ll go along for a swim.

DOCTOR: Nanny, go execute yourself. There’s nothing the matter with you, you are blooming with health. (The clock shows 6am)



(A bedroom with a door to a hallway. It’s dark. Fyodor, with a box of candy, and blindfolded, paces outside the door. The clock shows 5am. )

FYODOR: (enters and whispers loudly) Are you sleeping?

A MAID: I am sleeping, but come in.

FYODOR: So you are in bed. Look I brought you something.

MAID: Where are you coming from?

FYODOR: I was at the baths. I scrubbed myself like a horse. They blindfolded me. I should take off my coat.

MAID: Take off everything. Come to bed with me.

FYODOR: I will. No rush. Try the candy.

MAID: I’m eating it. And now come here. Tomorrow we’ll have Christmas.

FYODOR: (gets into bed with her) I know. I know. (they screw)

MAID: Our girl was killed.

FYODOR: I know, I heard.

MAID: She is already lying in the coffin.

FYODOR: I know. I know.

MAID: The Mother, the Father, everybody was crying.

FYODOR: I am bored with you. You are not my fiancee.

MAID: So what?

FYODOR: You are a stranger to my spirit. I will soon disappear like a poppy.

MAID: Who needs you? But do you want to do it one more time?

FYODOR: No I have a terrible sadness. I will soon disappear like happiness.

MAID: What are you thinking about right now?

FYODOR: About how the whole world has become uninteresting to me after you. And the table has lost the salt and the sky and the walls and the window and the sky and the forest. I will soon disappear like the night.

MAID: That would be impolite. I’ll punish you for that. Look at me. I’ll tell you something… something unnatural.

FYODOR: Try. You are a toad.

MAID: Your fiancee killed the child. Did you see the murdered girl? Your fiancee cut off her head.

FYODOR: (croaks)

MAID: Do you know the girl Sonya Ostrova? That’s who she killed.

FYODOR: (meows)

MAID: What, are you in pain?

FYODOR: (tweets like a bird)

MAID: And this is the one you loved. How could that be? You yourself are probably…

FYODOR: No, not me…

MAID: Sure, sure. Do you think I believe you?

FYODOR: Word of honor.

MAID: Go away. I want to sleep. Tomorrow will be Christmas.

FYODOR: I know. I know.

MAID: What are you babbling now? I want nothing to do with you.

FYODOR: I am babbling out of grief. What is left for me to do?

MAID: Grieve, grieve, grieve. And still nothing will help you. You’re right.

FYODOR: And still nothing will help me.

MAID: Maybe you could try… studying. Maybe study.

FYODOR: I will try. I will learn Latin. I will become a teacher. Good-bye.

MAID: Good-bye. (Fyodor leaves quietly. The maid sleeps. The clock shows 6am)



VERA the dog

(Living room. Coffin on the table with Sonya inside. The clock shows 8am. The dog Vera walks around the coffin.)

VERA: Around the coffin walk I
Looking carefully with my eye.
What could this death signify?

A poor person prays for bread.
Bronze folk pray to the blue sky spread.
A priest will say the mass instead

The corpse lies here freezing.
The taste of ham is pleasing.
Dulcinea is dead— and no appeasing.

Every place there are bloody spots.
What evil intends, evil plots.
Nanny, your action rots.

Life is for decoration.
Death is for trepidation.
And now, Nanny, why this annihilation?

For the most important arteries
And the most courageous bacteria,
What, Nanny, are your criteria?

Fyodor would your sweet ass pet
Always in the morning sweat,
Now you’ll be a corpse, and forget.

(The one-year-old boy, Petya Perov enters, stumbling.)

PETYA PEROV (1): I am the youngest—I wake up earlier than everybody else. I remember now that two years ago I didn’t remember anything. I hear the dog reciting a speech in verse. She is crying ever so quietly.

VERA: How cold it is in the hall.
What, Petya, did you call?

PETYA PEROV (1): Call? How can I call? I can only proclaim, announce, perhaps.

VERA: I howl, I howl, I howl my doggy jive.
Wishing Sonya were still alive.

PETYA PEROV (1): She was unusually indecent. And now it is frightening to look at her.

VERA: Aren’t you surprised that I speak instead of bark?

PETYA PEROV (1): At my age nothing much can surprise me.

VERA: Give me a glass of water. This is too much for me.

PETYA PEROV (1): Take it easy. During my short life I’ll see even worse things.

VERA: This Sonya, wretched Ostrova, was immoral. But I showed her… Explain all this to me.

PETYA PEROV (1): Daddy, Mummy, Uncle, Aunty, Nanny.

VERA: What? What are you saying? Come to your senses.

PETYA PEROV (1): I am one year old now. Don’t forget. Daddy. Mummy. Uncle. Aunty. Fire. Cloud. Apple. Stone. Poopoo. Don’t forget.
(Nanny enters and takes him away, he’s pooping in his pants.)

VERA: (reflecting) He actually is still pretty young.
(Misha Pestrov and Dunya Shustrova enter, holding hands)

MISHA PESTROV (76): Happy day! Today is Christmas! Soon there will be glee!

DUNYA SHUSTROVA (82): Not glee but a bee. And not a bee but a tree. Happy day. Happy day. Is Sonya sleeping?

VERA: No she is put out, that is, extinguished.



(Courtroom. Old time judges in wigs. Clock shows 8am.)

JUDGE: (croaking) Having not been able to wait until Christmas—I died.

JUDGE 2: I feel bad. I feel bad. Save me! (he dies, is also replaced by another judge)

ALL: (in chorus) Two deaths! Very odd. Oh well, it’s quite rare. Judge... for yourself! (heh)

SECRETARY: (officiously) Will there be any more dying?
Ahem, (reading from the record)

One winter evening Kozlov
Went to wash his nanny goats.
At the river he met Oslov,
Who had scrubbed his donkey’s coats.

Oslov says to Kozlov:
“What I say to you is true.
And written in the Chasoslov:
Wet goats are taboo.”

Kozlov says to Oslov:
“You can spare the reprimand.
It’s the psalter that I’m fond of;
Let the Chasoslov be damned!”

Oslov says to Kozlov:
“But the Psalms us likewise tell
That goats you mustn’t wash off
Or, by God, you’ll go to hell!”

Kozlov says to Oslov:
“Oh shut up, you stupid twit.
My goats have had enough of you
And think you’re full of shit!”

Oslov says to Koslov:
“Hey don’t you treat me like a fool.
I’ll break this willow branch off
And beat your goats—you mule!”

Koslov says to Oslov:
“Touch my goats and by this hand,
I’ll beat your stupid donkeys down
Until they cannot stand!”

“You stupid ass!” “You old nanny!”
And the snow is turning red;
For now there’s lots of blood,
And nearly all the livestock’s dead.

For just like wilting flowers,
The goats lie on the snow;
And the donkeys, overpowered,
Have fallen to their foe.

Kozlov brays at Oslov,
“Resuscitate my goats!”
Oslov bleats at Kozlov,
“Revive my lovely donkeys!”

JUDGES: The phenomenon of death is evident.

SECRETARY: Hmm, evident.

JUDGES: Do not say “hmmm.”

SECRETARY: All right, I won’t.

JUDGE: I begin the trial:
I judge,
I argue,
I sit,
I decide
—No, I do not transgress.

Once more:
I judge,
I argue,
I sit,
I decide
—No, I do not transgress.

Once more:
I judge,
I argue,
I sit,
I decide
—No, I do not transgress.

I have finished judging—everything is clear to me. Adelina Franzevna Schmetterling, who has been a nanny and has killed the girl Sonya Ostrova: shall be hanged.

NANNY: (shouts) I cannot live!

SECRETARY: And so you will not. We are meeting you halfway. (the clock shows 9am)




(Large French doors fill the stage, the children are in front of the doors. The clock shows 6pm)

PETYA PEROV (1): They will open right now. They will open right now. I will see it, I will see the Christmas tree!

NINA SEROVA (8): You saw it last year, too.

PETYA PEROV (1): I saw, I saw. But I don’t remember. I am still young. Still silly.

VARYA PETROVA (17): Oh Christmas tree, Christmas tree. Oh Christmas tree, Christmas tree. Oh Christmas tree, Christmas tree.

DUNYA SHUSTROVA (82): I will jump around. I will shout with laughter.

VOLODYA KOMAROV (25): Nanka, I want to go to the toilet.

NANNY: Volodya, if you need to go to the toilet, whisper in your own ear; otherwise you will embarrass the girls.

MISHA PESTROV (76): But do girls go to the toilet?

NANNY: They do. They go.

MISHA: But how? How do they go? And do you go?

NANNY: They go the way it needs to be done. I go too.

VOLODYA: See, I went. See, it feels better. How soon will they let us in?

VARYA PETROVA (17): Nanny, I also need to go. I am so excited.

NANNY: (loud whisper) Just pretend that you are going.

MISHA PESTROV (76): Where does she want to go with you?

GIRLS: (in chorus) Where the czar goes on foot!

NANNY: Now see? You should have said that you were going to play the piano.

PETYA PEROV (1): Why do you teach them to lie? What good is this lie? How boring to live, no matter what they say. (The parents open the doors)

PUZYROV: Well, lets celebrate. I did what I could. Here is the Christmas tree. And now Mama will play.

PUZYROVA: (sits at the piano and plays and sings)
Suddenly the music gnashes
Like a smiting sword flashes
All open the door
And we enter Constantinople.
Or Istanbul, but really just the festive hall,
Filled with the holy tree so tall.
All hide the sting of spite:
One hums like a bee in flight,
Another like a moth giving chase
Circles the trunk of the tree in space,
And the third like a, a huge, um, ...fireplace,
The fourth like chalk that you erase,
The fifth goes too near the candle and screams,
And I howl, I howl, I howl in my dreams.

PETYA PEROV (1): Christmas tree, I must tell you: How beautiful you are.

NINA SEROVA (8): Christmas tree, I want to explain to you: How good you are.

VARYA PETROVA (17): Oh, Christmas tree, Christmas tree. Oh, Christmas tree, Christmas tree. Oh, Christmas tree, Christmas tree.

VOLODYA KOMAROV (25): Christmas tree, I want to inform you: How splendid you are.

MISHA PESTROV (76): Bliss, bliss, bliss, bliss.

DUNYA SHUSTROVA (82): Like teeth. Like teeth. Like teeth. Like teeth.

PUZYROV: I am very glad that everybody is having fun. I am very unhappy that Sonya died. How sad that everyone is so sad.

PUZYROVA: (sings) Filled with the holy... Hooo hooo. (chokes up)

VOLODYA KOMAROV (25): (he shoots himself above the ear, bang!) Mama, don’t cry. Laugh. See, I shot myself!

PUZYROVA: (sings) All right, I will not darken your celebration. Let’s have fun! And yet, poor, poor Sonya.

PETYA PEROV (1): It’s ok, it’s ok, Mama. Life will pass quickly. Soon everybody will die.

PUZYROVA: Petya, are you joking? What are you saying?

PUZYROV: He doesn’t seem to be joking. Volodya Komarov has already died.

PUZYROVA: Did he really die?

PUZYROV: Yes, certainly. He just shot himself.

DUNYA SHUSTROVA (82): I am dying while I sit in the armchair.

PUZYROVA: What is she saying?

MISHA PESTROV (76): I longed for longevity. But there is no longevity. I have died.

NANNY 2: Children’s diseases, children’s diseases. They will be the death of me. (she dies)

NINA SEROVA (8): Nanny, nanny, what is it with you? Why is your nose so sharp?

PETYA PEROV (1): The nose is sharp, but the knife is sharper.

PUZYROV: We still have our two youngest children left. Petya and Nina. Well, we will carry on somehow.

PUZYROVA: That doesn’t console me. Is that the sun?

PUZYROV: What sun? It is evening! We will put out the lights on the Christmas tree. It’s too bright in here.

PETYA PEROV (1): I want to die so much. An act of quiet will. I am dying. So I have died.

NINA SEROVA (8): And I. Oh, Christmas tree, Christmas tree. Oh, Christmas tree, Christmas tree. Oh, Christmas tree. That is all. I have died.

PUZYROV: And they too have died. They say that the Woodcutter Fyodor has finished his studies and has become a teacher of Latin. ...What is it with me? I have a sharp stab to my heart. I am blind. I am dying.

PUZYROVA: (oblivious) What are you saying? Yes, Fyodor is such a good example. There is a man of the masses who achieved what he wanted. God, such an unhappy Christmas we are having. (falls and dies. The clock shows 7pm)

The End