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July 17 , 2009

Power of Darkness


Written in 1886, DARKNESS was and is considered remarkably gruesome, and it was almost instantly banned in Russia. It fell to the New York stage to give the drama its best known success, first in a 1904 Yiddish version and then in a 1920 English translation. The story, usually described as "a peasant tragedy," concerns Nikita, who works as a hired man for a wealthy peasant and who has an affair with his employer's wife, Anisya. Frustrated by her husband's task-master attitude and stinginess, Anisya poisons her husband, assuming that she and Nikita will enjoy the future together. But Anisya has miscalculated in her estimation of Nikita's character; she has merely traded one unpleasant husband for another, and when Nikita seduces Anisya's stepdaughter another murder – a particularly ghastly one – is the result.

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