They had been lovers for several years until Tom’s wife learned about their affair, whereupon Kyra ended the liaison. Tom’s wife has recently died of cancer and he finds that he wants to see Kyra again. One night he unexpectedly arrives at her apartment.
Tom: You think I haven’t wanted to? My God, you think I haven’t wanted to call? To pick up the telephone? You think I haven’t wanted to jump in the car and bust my way through that bloody door?
Kyra I wish you’d take off your fucking coat. Her directness suddenly speaks of a whole past between them.
Tom Well, I would. Of course. If you’d get central heating. Then of course I’d take off my coat. But since you’ve made a style choice to live in Outer Siberia, I think for the moment I’ll keep my coat on.
There’s a genuine familiarity in their dialogue, they are glad to see one another, they battle like any lovers do. Tom wants Kyra to give up teaching, move to a nicer apartment, resume their relationship.
Krya: You started to lecture me. “Don’t waste you time on higher education, it’s only a way of postponing real life.”
However, Kyra is devoted to teaching, finds the business world repellent and Tom’s display of his wealth unattractive.
Kyra: I spend my time among very different people. People who often have nothing at all. And I find in them one great virtue at least: unlike the rich, they have no illusions that they must once have done something right! Nor do they suffer from delicate feelings.
At the end of the first act, they embrace, Kyra begins to cry, they take each other in their arms and Tom says, Kyra, I’m back.
In the second act their disagreements continue, nothing is resolved, and the play ends as Tom quietly leaves.
Tom and Kyra are bound together by a shared memory of love, but divided by income and belief. Theirs is an impossible love, a tragic one. In the present era of gross economic inequalities and class differences, I find the play even more compelling than when I first saw in it in the 90s.
Equally important is the personal resonance the play has for me in light of my own brief relationship with a young woman as different from me in income and status as Kyra and Tom.
Every now and then I wonder about what happened to her or if I would ever see her again. At times I have thought about e-mailing her. But why? What is the point? There isn’t any.