Constructed out of flashbacks, the play moves backward and forward in time as it probes into the plight of one Zilov, an engineer who has achieved a certain position in the Soviet bureaucracy, but has lost his will to live. He has come to detest his boring job and the petty superior he must defer to; his marriage is falling apart; he feels betrayed by his friends, he disdains the young student who offers him the passion and sense of wonder he once derived from his wife; and he seems concerned only with his annual hunting trip which, he hopes, will restore a purpose and identity to his life. But events continue to frustrate him: his wife aborts the child who might have saved their relationship; the new apartment they have wrested from the grudging bureaucracy seems more a tomb than a home; and ultimately, suicide appears to be Zilov's only alternative. But, in the end, emboldened by vodka and defying the persistent bad weather, Zilov does go hunting—for the will to live is stronger than the desire to give up, and hope remains, even in the gray sameness of an existence gone stale.
A perceptive, inventive play from the modern Russian theatre which, remarkably, dares to expose the darker side of life in contemporary Soviet society, and the deep-seated malaise that troubles many of its citizens. Produced with notable success by Arena Stage, in Washington, D.C. "On this evidence, Vampilov was a remarkable playwright…" —Washington Post. "Once again, Arena has scored a major success. It has given us a fascinating play that is also a fascinating document." —Washington Star. "…a drama of unusual depth and perception…" —Variety.