Three sisters move back into a New York City apartment together after their lives have taken turns for the worse. Before they can even finish unpacking, their first night together becomes a comedy of Chekhovian proportions. Armed with nothing but a dwindling bottle of vodka, some pizza, and a loaded gun, these siblings must set aside their grievances and work together to save themselves from an ever-escalating series of events.
The play opens as sisters Emily, Rose, and Clara have finished moving the last of their boxes into their new apartment. It is hideous and claustrophobic, and the raging snow storm outside prevents them from escaping. The whole thing mirrors their childhood, except a thousand times sadder.
Rose, the middle sister, is the only one who seems determined to unpack and begin “nesting,” while Emily, the oldest, and Clara, the youngest, are pretty determined to pass the time hurling insults at each other. Emily jabs at Clara about her “trip to the hospital,” while Clara jabs at Emily about her “imploding marriage.” Rose interrupts the insult parade by offering to give a tour of the new place, which both sisters give a giant thumbs down. It’s a crappy apartment, what’s there to see?
Clara finally picks out an item from one of the boxes and goes to the kitchen to put it away. While she is offstage, we learn from Emily and Rose that Clara’s hospital trip was the result of a suicide attempt. Clara snuck into Rose’s apartment to do the deed, leaving Rose to find her and rush her to the hospital. The whole thing was extra traumatic for Rose since she was the one who found their father when he killed himself years ago.
The subject of significant others comes up, but Emily doesn’t want to talk about her estranged husband Stephen very much. Rose decides to fill the silence by talking about her “man friend” Paul. Emily has no idea what a “man friend” is, and when Rose tries to explain that it is a “special friend,” Emily responds that she has no idea what a “special friend” is either, and that ends that conversation. Switching gears, Rose tries to gossip about Clara’s ex-boyfriend Jimbo, who she heard was involved with the Irish Mafia. Emily is fascinated by his name, and even more fascinated by the idea of the Irish Mafia, which she had no idea was a thing that existed.
When Clara returns from the kitchen, the three attempt to actually begin unpacking their apartment. Confusion arises when Emily and Clara realize that Rose labeled all the boxes with each of their names before they started packing. Rose claims she told them about her system, but neither sister remembers this at all. The two had just grabbed boxes to pack without looking at what name was on them, and now everyone’s stuff is everywhere. The whole thing feels like a lot more work than what they signed up for.
The evening begins to take a positive spin when Emily discovers a half-empty vodka bottle in the freezer left by the previous owners of the apartment. Emily and Clara take turns swigging straight from the bottle, and, despite her fear of germs, even Rose joins in, desperate to be included in the sisterly bonding taking place. As they drink, they point out that they bear some resemblance to the famous “Three Sisters” of Chekhov. They make a few half-hearted attempts to figure out what their “Moscow” is, but nobody can really remember the play or what Moscow is supposed to symbolize. Eventually they give up and order a pizza. Enter Cliff, the down-on-his-luck Pizza Mania delivery man.
The good mood is soon ruined as Rose attempts to (unsuccessfully) hit on Cliff, and Emily tries to corral Rose. Cliff, in completely over his head, begins to have a panic attack from all the unwanted attention, made worse by the constant buzz of the three sisters around him. He desperately tries to stumble his way out of the apartment, but Rose insists he needs his tip. She goes into her purse to pull out her wallet and finds… a gun. Rose shrieks in horror— what is a gun doing in her purse? Clara grabs the gun and tells her to relax, it’s just the gun she stole from Jimbo. No one can relax. Annoyed, Clara insists the gun isn’t even loaded, and to prove it she pulls the trigger.
The gun is loaded. Cliff goes down in a heap.
After a moment of stunned silence, the sisters are launched into frantic chaos. What’s happening? Is he really dead? Did the neighbors hear? After a lot of frenzied bickering about who should check for a pulse, Rose finally agrees to do it. She bends down and tries to locate one. She’s pretty sure Cliff is dead, but she doesn’t really know how to check for a pulse, so who’s to say? The sisters decide to move Cliff’s body to the bathroom and set him in the tub, since that’s something Rose saw on an HBO show once. Cliff is much heavier than anticipated, and they have to resort to dragging him. The whole thing is very undignified, with the sisters careening into scattered boxes and unpacked items en route while trying to wrangle Cliff’s flopping, lifeless limbs.
They return from the bathroom in a daze. What now? Will they go to jail? They try to figure out a game plan to start cleaning the blood from the apartment but are startled by a knock on the door. It’s Jimbo, and he’s angry. Jimbo is there for Clara and the secret stash of cocaine he sewed into her childhood teddy bear. He’d also love his gun back, once he recognizes it in Emily’s hand, though it’s hard to get a word in edgewise with the constant ringing of Cliff’s phone from the bathroom. Even more confusing for Emily is the fact that Jimbo is not, in fact, Irish. At all. There goes the Irish Mafia theory.
Jimbo and the sisters end up in a fight for the gun, which results in Jimbo being shot and also killed. Whoops. Now there are two dead bodies in the apartment… and this time the neighbors have definitely heard. The sisters desperately try to search for a way out of the situation, but none comes to mind. Making a run for it is out, as there is no way to hide from the police, since all the boxes in the apartment have their names on them.
As they hear the sirens growing in the distance, Emily struggles to tie together a narrative that will spin the murders in their favor. What if they blame it all on Jimbo? What if Jimbo is the one who shot Cliff, and held them hostage until they overpowered him? Could it work? Nobody is sure.
As the lights from the patrol car flash outside their window, Emily falls at the mercy of her sisters, admitting to them for the first time how much she needs them. A knock is heard on their door. In the play’s final moment, the sisters turn to each other, unsure of what to say.
Marvelously witty, literate banter.
–Los Angeles Times
Emily – Mid- to late 30s. Oldest. A mediocre writer with a failing marriage.
Rose – Early to mid-30s. Middle. A first-grade teacher with an overactive maternal instinct.
Clara – Late 20s to early 30s. Youngest. A nihilist trying to escape her life.
Cliff – 40s. Too old to be delivering pizzas.
Jimbo – Asian. Late 20s to early 30s. Not in the Irish Mafia.
Setting: Interior of a small, depressing apartment during a snowstorm.
Note: Dialogue should be quick, fast-paced. These characters do not pause much in their speech unless indicated in the script.
Performance Royalties for AMATEUR and EDUCATIONAL Groups begin at $90.00 per performance for theaters under 150 seats, and rise depending on ticket prices and theater particulars. Please fill out an application for your personalized quote.
Performance Royalties for PROFESSIONAL Theaters will be quoted as a box office percentage, with a minimum guarantee based on ticket prices and theater particulars. Please fill out an application for your personalized quote.
An Authorized Materials/Rehearsal Package must be purchased from Stage Rights as a part of your licensing agreement (see Materials).
Billing responsibilities, pertinent copyright information, and playwrights' biographies are available in the show rider that comes with your license agreement.
“With hilarious deadly accuracy, Dellagiarino's snappy dialogue captures the kind of put-downs and barbed comebacks only siblings who know each other all too well can use to pick at each other's psychic scabs…” –Los Angeles Times
“Dellagiarino is a playwright to watch, her talent is clearly apparent… A seriously fun show.” –Stage Raw (Top Ten/Recommended)
“…a crisp, 65 minutes of beautifully nonsensical hilarity… Really smart theatre." –Gia on the Move (Recommended)
“Dellagiarino’s sharp wit is fully evident… I was on the edge of my seat.” –DC Theatre Scene
“My definition of a great production… a dark comedy with truly poignant moments.” –DC Metro Theatre Arts
“A very entertaining, fresh piece of theatre.” –Onstage Blog
“A satisfyingly deep dark black comedy… I am still smiling.” –Paul Myrvold’s Theatre Notes
An Authorized Materials/Rehearsal Package must be purchased from Stage Rights as a part of your licensing agreement. Your materials will be sent to you two months prior to your opening date, unless other arrangements have been made in advance with your Stage Rights Licensing Representative.
The Authorized Materials/Rehearsal Package for Value of Moscow consists of:
13 Production Scripts / $160.00 (shipping included)
Production Scripts for Plays are professionally printed and bound with a full-color cover.
You will have the option to purchase additional Production Scripts at a discounted rate when you complete your Licensing Agreement.
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Stage Manager’s Script – Printed on standard 8.5” x 11” 3-hole-punched paper, with the same page numbers and text as the Printed Production Scripts, but with more space on the page for notes and cues.