The Sisters Rosensweig, a play intended to echo Russian playwright Anton Chekhov’s Tri sestry (1901, revised, 1904; The Three Sisters, 1920), is set in August of 1991 as the Soviet Union is dissolving. To celebrate Sara Goode’s birthday, her two sisters, Pfeni Rosensweig and “Dr.” Gorgeous Teitelbaum, come to England. Also invited are Sara’s teenage daughter, Tessie; Pfeni’s lover, the bisexual play director, Geoffrey Duncan; Sara’s aristocratic lover, Nicholas Pymn; and Tessie’s working-class Catholic boyfriend, Tom.
As the play opens, Tessie is listening to recordings of Sara’s college chorus for a school project. Pfeni, a globe-trotting feminist journalist, arrives and embraces Geoffrey, whose friend, Mervyn Kant, “world leader in synthetic animal protective covering”—a fake furrier—meets them at Sara’s house. Mervyn becomes smitten with Sara and invites himself to dinner.
Dr. Gorgeous, a radio personality who funded her trip from Newton, Massachusetts, by leading a tour for the Temple Beth El sisterhood, enters, her feet aching from cheap shoes. Before dinner Nicholas baits Mervyn about his Jewishness, and Tom and Tessie, who want to go to the celebration in Lithuania, are entranced by Mervyn’s political views. After dinner Sara and Mervyn discuss their similar American pasts until he charms her into bed. When Mervyn asks for a song, however, Sara refuses. In act 2 Gorgeous arranges...
(The entire section is 449 words.)