In a surreal, barren landscape, three families (Jewish, Christian, Moslem) struggle to survive physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Offstage, endless war is being fought — against whom, nobody knows— maybe themselves? The unreality is underscored by the figure of Olga, a ‘translator’ (censor) for a military newspaper, whose job is to recast events in a non-frightening way— there are no casualties, Russia is winning.… Her only son returns damaged from one battle and will probably be drafted again.
Juxtaposed against this vision of a cracked and broken Russia, where everything is in short supply but anything can be bought, Tanya writes in her dreambook, lyric poetry; purple prose; flights of fancy. She’s a creative artist whose job is to paste together cheap imitations for a museum. One day, wealthy donors arrive from America; perhaps they will choose this museum for their largess.
Azade is keeper of the outdoor latrine, the building’s only toilet. Her husband becomes a ghost who harasses the living, and with the help of feral children, who may or may not be dogs, undoes every effort to clean up their yard and make the property presentable for the American visitors. The three women and their families must learn to live and love as the terrain becomes evermore bizarre.