Rasputin is a long one-act play for two characters, a girl, Anastasia, and Rasputin, “a tall, gaunt man with piercing eyes, long black hair and a black beard.”  The unit set “surrounded by darkness” has a bed, a table, and some wooden chairs.  Anastasia begins with a “once upon a time” story of a girl who is lost in a forest in the winter.  A leaf tells her to go to the Czar, who looks very much like her father, and who orders the world to come alive.  The girl wakes up and realizes she has been dreaming and is nearly covered with snow in the dark forest.  From the darkness, the voice of Rasputin tells her that she must tell him her name, date of birth, place of residence, and names of family members.  Anastasia keeps saying that she does not know, that she cannot remember.  He tells her to close her eyes and asks her what she sees.  She remembers riding through the woods on a wagon in the night with snow falling.  She says she has sisters and a brother and that she comes from a palace where she was a Grand Duchess.  Rasputin lights a lamp so that Anastasia can see him.  He asks her if she is from Ekaterinburg, a name she refuses to say, but he tells her that if she will not speak her name she is reducing those who created her to nothing.  She finally says her name and then the names of her sisters–Tatiana, Marie, and Olga–and her brother Aleksy.  Rasputin says she remembers someone else, but Anastasia says she doesn’t want to remember him because he smells like death and is a horrible person.  Rasputin says she lived in a brothel and her father was a pig-fancying moron.  She says her father was Emperor of Russia and Rasputin asks her what she is doing in this shithole.  He pours some vodka into a tin cup, drinks some, and offers the cup to her.  She takes it and throws the vodka in his face.  He wonders whether it would be kinder of him to help her remember or help her to forget.  He says he can have intercourse with her whenever he wants but he prefers the challenge of seducing her.  He says if she has just one drink of vodka he’ll tell her where her parents and siblings are.  But when she takes the drink he says she must tell him where her family is or else kiss him.  She finally says, “Ekaterinburg,” and he asks her if she remembers sitting in his lap as he told her stories.  He repeats the “once upon a time” story which Anastasia said at the beginning of the play, with the variation that the leaf tells the girl to go to God.  Rasputin says that her father was a very stupid man who sent thousands of soldiers out to be butchered and he is now in Ekaterinburg with the rest of his family, dead, covered with dirt and being eaten by worms.  Anastasia describes how they were taken to a cellar and shot.  She was hit and stabbed until she lost consciousness and thinks she must have died and is in hell.  When Rasputin mentions the wagon she remembers a man telling her that he found her still alive as he was burying the corpses and took pity on her.  She wonders why she didn’t die with the rest and Rasputin suggests that perhaps, as she was dying in the cellar, she imagined the woods, and the wagon, and the cottage, and him; that perhaps this is a vision she has just before her death.  She asks which version is true–is this a vision or did she really escape?  He says she must choose the role she will play–a madwoman who thinks she is the Grand Duchess Anastasia, a conniving Polish whore impersonating Anastasia, the Grand Duchess herself miraculously saved but driven mad by what happened, or the girl dying in the basement.  When she says she is cold he puts his coat over her shoulders and she tells again the story of the girl lost in the dark forest with the variation that the leaf sends her to Death.  She pauses, then says that her name means resurrection.  Rasputin kisses her tenderly on the lips and as the light fades and goes out we hear the sound of the wind.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s