The Lower Depths

Definition

Theater

  • Maxim Gorki's internationally acclaimed drama, firstproduced by Stanislavsky at the Moscow Art Theatrein 1902. It is considered Gorki's finest play and a key text in thedevelopment of 20th-century realism. The play provided MaxReinhardt with his first major success in 1903, running formore than 500 performances at his Kleines Theatre in Berlin.

    The play explores the conflict between harsh reality and comfortinglies. The pilgrim Luka enters a Moscow dosshouse and offers redemptionto the inhabitants, who include a murderer, a thief, a prostitute,and a drunken actor. He brings them the illusion of hope (even urgingPepel, the thief, to start again in Siberia, "a land of gold").In the event Pepel murders the dosshouse owner and goes to jail andthe actor hangs himself. Luka disappears, leaving one character toexplain: "He lied, but he lied out of sheer pity for you."

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