THE RUSSIAN PLAN
A Review by Ruth Llivicota
Recently. I saw a play online called the Russian Plan. Initially, the Russian Plan was written in Spanish and then translated to English. This play is fascinating. The drama centered on two characters, a mother, Maria, and a father, Mike, and their 14-year-old son, Eddie, even though there wasn’t anyone playing the son. The parents enter the office, where they both sit down and ask about the ad for their child. Although it is unclear what they were looking for at first, you can see both characters argue about their son and his behavior.
The mother defends his child and tries to excuse his son. Often calling him intelligent, cute, handsome, sensitive, innocent, “poor boy.” The mother claims that they are only there to improve his education. The mother and the father have different opinions about their son. When learning that the program was a village in Siberia without electricity and running water for a year, they would send him without a phone and no internet. The mother defends his son by calling the program “too primitive,” “tough,” “forced labor,” “capitalist.” The father believes that it’s just what his son needs to learn, not to take what he already has for granted. At the same time, the father would defend the program to convince the mother to send their child to Siberia. He would mention things like thermal underwear, coal to keep them warm. The opportunity to learn to be self-sufficient avoids the need that he doesn’t need to depend on welfare or Medicaid. Their son would also learn Russian, and it would help him when looking for a job. “You send them a boy, and they give back a man.” The father wants his son to grow up and become prudent.
Further along, we learned that Maria’s idea was to send their son, Eddie, to the program. We also knew that Eddie is a reckless teen that has stolen his mother’s car and crashed it into a wall, has also gone out and come home drunk. You can slowly see a transition as the mother reluctantly agrees to what the father says while still making excuses for her son. Mike also shares his anguish about his son, calling him a tyrant from a young age and spoiled. He believes that the Russian Plan will fix the mistake that they made with their son. He believes that his son is nothing more than a bank account and that his wife is a maid. The father believes that his son only cares about his own needs and wants. He wants his son to be able to value what he has and also learn to be independent.
Towards the end of the play, you can see the dad is trying to convince the mom to sign the registration form. He tries to name some positive things such as more freedom for her to go where she pleases, watch a movie or buy a nice expensive pair of shoes, and even the chance to go on a nice vacation once a month. After finally convincing the mother about the Russian Plan, they sign the registration form while talking about future vacation plans. You can see that while the mother loves Eddie deeply, she also deep down feels like Eddy is too reckless. The mother also wants to be free and doesn’t want to live running after her son. She finally gives in to the idea that the Russian Plan is the only way to tame their son.
I believe this play highlights the way some parents feel about their kids. Growing kids can be reckless and need a guide on how to survive growing, but often, parents don’t know how to help them, so they believe that programs like the Russian Plan can help them do their job as parents. Especially in the case of Eddie, where the parents have given up and believe the Russian Plan is their option left. Eddie is their “scapegoat.” The parents, specifically Mike, feel like Eddie’s a bad child that needs to face the real world to learn to behave. While Maria feels like Eddie is still a child that needs nurturing and with on his own time, like any other teenager, will grow up. When they don’t see any changes in their son resort to a program overseas to “fix” their son because the problem here is their son.