The Twelve Chairs

Adapted from a 1928 satirical novel by Ilf & Petrov. It’s the Soviet Ukraine, late 1920s. A minor aristocrat, Claudia Ivanova Petukhov, is dying. She tells her son-in-law, 38-year-old Ippolit Matveyevich Vorobyaninov, she had hidden her jewels from the Bolsheviks. They are inside one of a suite of twelve chairs, but the chairs were seized by the state in the years after the Revolution. The son-in-law sets off to track down the jewel-laden chair. A slippery 18-year-old shyster and opportunist, Olga Bender, attaches herself to this endeavour, the pair of them straight out of a Ron Morrieson novel. Also on the hunt for the jewels is a bearded priest, Fr Fyodor Ivanovich Vostrikov, Claudia Ivanova’s confessor, desperate for ready capital to set up a decent-sized enterprise in Samara and turn a rouble or two. The hunt ends up on stage in a Moscow theatre.