In Gorky's greatest work, the characters are the dregs of society hovelled in a ramshackle inn: a thief, a degenerate baron, a prostitute, an alcoholic actor, the seedy proprietor, his sister in law who loves the thief and others. Their discontent grows until a whistler comes to perk up their spirits and they begin to grow hopeful. In one of their quarrels a brawl erupts, the proprietor is killed, others are jailed and the drunken actor rises to the pinnacle of his performance by hanging himself.
"It is, perhaps not a play at all, but a slow moving graphic panorama of unrelieved woe. Nevertheless, truth is stamped indelibly upon it; it is the work of a master of dramatic realism." - N.Y. World.