Moma

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SCENE ONEIt is 1929. Ivan Prisypkin, a former Party member, strolls into a huge State Department Store in Tambov, accompanied by his future mother-in-law Rosalie Pavlovna Renaissance (who runs a successful beauty parlor) and an eccentric house-owner named Oleg Bayan. Hawkers are selling all sorts of products: bananas, German whetsones, lampshades, balloons, herring, glue, perfume, and fur-lined brassieres. Declaring, "My house must be like a horn of plenty", Prisypikin orders Rosalie to buy up all sorts of unnecessary stuff such as bonnets and dancing dolls for his future children. Rosalie is reluctant, but Bayan advises her that Prisypkin's way is the way of the up-and-coming working class; and, more importantly, Prisypkin is bringing an immaculate proletarian origin into her family along with an all-important union card. So Rosalie shouldn't count her kopecks.Prisypkin reminds Rosalie that she can't call him "Comrade" until after the wedding, because she's not a proletarian yet.Rosalie sees a hawker selling herring, but she is offended by the small size of them. So she runs off to the State Cooperative to buy herring there instead.Bayan unctiously tells Prisypkin that he can arrange the wedding. Bayan offers to sing an epithalamium of Hymen, but Prisypikin thinks he's talking about the Himalayas. Bayan describes a perfectly class-conscious wedding: the bride, with red lips; arrives in a red carriage; her escort with be a red-faced bookkeeper; the table will be covered in red; the bottles will have red seals.  Our love is liquidated. I'll call the militia if you interfere with my freedom of love as a citizen. | A working girl named Zoya Beryozkina, who until this moment thought she was Prysipkin's girlfriend, happens by and overhears this talk. She demands to know what it is all about. Prysipkin carelessly dismisses her, telling her that their affair is over.Rosalie returns with the herring she got from the State Cooperative. She is heart-broken to discover that the hawker's herring are actually larger.Rosalie sees Zoya and, assuming that Zoya is pregnant and making demands, Rosalie starts a scandal, saying she'll pay off Zoya, but not before she smashes her in the face first. A militiaman enters to stop the ruckus.SCENE TWOBack at Prysipkin's hostel, a Barefoot Youth is looking for his boots. It seems that Pryspikin took them to wear while on a date with his fiancee. The residents talk about the airs Prysipkin has taken on. They find a calling card showing that Ivan Prysipkin has changed his name to Pierre Skripkin (something akin to "Pierre Violin"), and they all have a good laugh over that.A Mechanic says Prysipkin is like a deserter abandoning the trenches. It's still like 1919, the Mechanic says, with lice everywhere. He continues, "Our enemies attack silently now--that's the only difference. And people shoot with noiseless powder."Pryspikin, wearing a new pair of shoes, enters with Bayan, who is carrying all of Prysipkin's new purchases. The youths in the hostel all turn their backs on Prysipkin. Bayan starts instructing Prysipkin on how to properly dance the first dance after the wedding. While practicing, Prysipkin scratches himself. Bayan advises him on the proper way to scratch in his new social circle. If the need to scratch should arise, Prysipkin should feign jealously, back away from his bride, and rub his back against a statue or vase while saying, "I understand, treacherous one, that you are playing a game with me". Once so scratched, Prysipkin can resume the dance normally. Bayan then leaves to make sure that the ushers don't drink too much vodka before the wedding.  I can raise the standards of the whole proletariat by looking after my own comforts. | Prysipkin tries on his new clothes while a Youth and the Mechanic snort indignantly. Prysipkin says that it was he who fought to build the bridge to socialism, so now he has a right to rest by the river.A shot rings out. A youth enters to annouce...
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