Life is what you make it in Drury Pifer's World Premiere of his humorous and telling one-acts Russian Strip & An American Heart - stories of men who defy convention and live life on their own terms. The evening begins with the darkly humorous Russian Strip, set in the Soviet Union of the early 1950s. Commissar Grigory Belkin has fallen out of favor with the government and is being interrogated by fervent (and attractive) Communist Party Member Svetlana Popskaya. During his interrogation, Belkin peppers his answers with richly inventive stories about the people he claims to have met. This "who's who" of his life includes Adolph Hitler, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. As Belkin embellishes his fanciful (and intoxicating) version of European history, one can't help but wonder why Popskaya has so much trouble keeping her clothes on.
In An American Heart, which takes place in a special wing of a prestigious medical center, we meet Jebediah Hankering, an aging, alcohol-swilling reprobate, ensconced therein against his will by his self-righteous sister. Jeb is a throwback to the days when western campfires were brightened by tall tales. (Did you hear the one about the whales who pushed an ice floe from Alaska to Mexico?) Hope Leskovski, an eager tabloid reporter, breaks into his room believing he's the recipient of the world's most sophisticated mechanical heart. Grappling with their personal demons, this unlikely couple develops a bond allowing them to attempt the last thing each thought was possible.