On the 28th of March a hundred and fifty years ago a boy named Alexey Maximovitch Peshkov was born in a cabinetmaker’s family in Nizhny Novgorod. Later he became known in the history of world literature as Maxim Gorky (1868—1936), icon of socialist realism. 

The Lower Depths was first produced in the Moscow Art Theatre in 1902, when the young author had not yet become an influential political figure, and it had a great impact on Gorky’s career. Witten in a rich, polyphonic style, The Lower Depths is mainly based on strong characters, and in many ways it’s different from Gorky’s later writings that are ideologically more clear-cut. It can without a doubt be called Gorky’s best known play and it has inspired thousands of productions all over the world.

In Estonia, The Lower Depths was first produced in 1903 at the Estonia Theatre, in cooperation of Willem Thal and Paul Pinna. In Tallinn City Theatre (then Estonian Youth Theatre) the play was last staged fifty years ago, to celebrate Gorky’s hundredth anniversary (directed by Grigori Kromanov).

The action takes place in a shelter, where the landlord, Kostylyoff, rents beds to people who cannot afford a better abode. Of course, such a hostel attracts a variegated bunch of people, among whom you can find craftsmen and vendors as well as thieves and prostitutes, plus an odd impoverished aristocrat or artist.

The truth lies in the lower depths.