Mikhail Ivanov Kostylev, 54 years old, lodging housekeeper.
Vasilisa Karpovna, his wife, 26 years old.
Natasha, Vasilisa’s sister, 20 years old.
Medvedev, their uncle, a policeman, 50 years old.
Vaska Ash, a thief, 28 years old.
Mite Andrew Mitrich, locksmith, 40 years old.
Anna, his wife is 30 years old.
Nastya, 24 years old.
Kvashnya, a dumpling trader, under 40 years old.
Bubnov, cap, 45 years old.
Baron, 33 years old.
Satin is about 40 years old.
The actor is about 40 years old.
Luke is a wanderer, 60 years old.
Crooked Zob, Tatar – hooks.
Alyoshka, a shoemaker-20 years old.
The beginning of spring, morning. Anna is coughing in the dark, feeble basement with bunks on the bed. Everyone wakes up, Satin growls, the Actor fusses, Nastya reads a love story, Baron talks with Kvashnea about her possible marriage. Between the lodging guests there is a dispute about who should clean. After some trials, they agreed that the actor would clean up. He complains that his body is poisoned by alcohol. Satine, in response to his pathetic tirades, says the words “organon, sycambr, macrobiotics, transcendental”, incomprehensible to him. He admits that he was bored with the usual words that he served as a boy on a telegraph, read many books, and therefore he likes strange words. The actor remembers the old times, confidently
Ashes are interested in Mite, like his wife? To which Ticks shares his plans – after the death of his wife, he wants to escape from here. He dislikes people who do not want to work, live without honor and conscience. Natasha brings a new guest, Luka. She invites Luka to the kitchen, and Mites says that it is necessary to treat the dying person more kindly.
Ashes brave before Natasha, it is clear that she is not indifferent to him. Ticks and Bubnov warn him that Vasilisa will not give up her gift. She is a fierce woman. At this time in the kitchen Luke’s song is being sung, Ashes asks him to shut up, he’s bored. Luke enters into a general conversation, tells of Nastia’s tears over the book. The Baron enters the room. Ashes from boredom suggest he get on all fours to amuse him. The Baron responds to these words that they are one with him and will not be pleased with his humiliation. Luke says that everyone is equal. The Baron for some time again appear barbaric manners. He begins to demand a passport from Luka, asks about who he is. After this conversation, Ashes and the Baron leave, and a new face appears on the stage, the shoemaker Alyoshka. He in his 20 years says that he does not want anything in life. Appears Vasilisa, she is very angry with Alyoshka, driving him away. Alyoshka retired to the street, and Vasilisa turned her attention to Luka. He does not show her a passport, he promises to bring it later. After talking with Luke Vasilisa is looking for Ashes. However, Bubnov, having understood everything, says that he is not at home. As if by chance, Vasilisa asks if there was a sister here, Natasha? Learning that she was, quickly leaves. Tenants once again argue who should get out. Luke asks Nastia, but she refuses. Luka asks why she cries, then wants to get drunk? Nastya defiantly says that it will be so, that’s all. Finally Luka decides to sweep himself, goes behind the broom in the passage. Comes back after Medvedev came. Medvedev is also interested in Luke’s personality, but he leaves for the kitchen. Bubnov and Medvedev agree on an evening game of checkers. Uncle Vasilisa asks Bubnov about her relationship with Vaska Aspl, but Bubnov keeps silent. Kvashnya enters the basement. She says that Medvedev pestered her to get married. Bubnov advises her not to miss such an opportunity.
Luke enters the room, leads Anna, who is very weak. Medvedev speaks of the need to look after her. Luke compliments him, calling him a sergeant. Not yet attained before the non-commissioned officer, Medvedev talks about his service. But his narrative is interrupted by the invading Kostylev. He shouts that Vasilisa is beating Natasha. Everyone escapes, Luke and Anna remain in the room. Anna, looking at Luka, remembers her father, the same gentle, soft. Luke tells her that he was mewed a lot, because it’s soft.
The second action
In the evening, with the light of two lamps, Tatarin, Satin, Crooked Zob, Baron playing cards, Bubnov and Medvedev – in checkers. Sing prison songs. Anna at this time complains to Luka for his lived unhappy life. Luke comforts her, says that soon her share will be much easier.
The Tatar catches the Baron on a scam in the cards. He is embittered, screaming that you need to play fair and live honestly. Satin and the Baron go for a walk. And Luke and the Actor talk about the loss of the soul. The actor realizes that he has drunk both the soul and the name. He does not even remember poetry. Luka comforts him, says that for alcoholics there is a clinic where they treat for free. The actor has a hope for a different life. “A person can do everything, if only he wants to.” The actor, encouraged and pleased, leaves. Anna becomes worse, she is afraid of death, she thinks that there will be just as bad. Luke comforts with, saying that she will be sent by the Lord to Paradise.
Medvedev quarrels with Ashes. He says that if he is caught, he will surrender the whole family for buying stolen goods. Medvedev leaves. Luke suggests that Ash leave from this place. Ashes also know what will happen in Siberia, but only as a convict, like his father. He asks Luke if there is a God? Luke says that “if you believe – there is, you do not believe – no… What you believe in, it is.”
Vasilisa comes to Ash. She pushes Luka out of the room, but he quietly climbs the stove. Confident that no one hears them, Vasilisa tries to find out the truth. Vaska tells her that he did not like her and does not like that she does not want to live with her. She asks Ash to free her from her husband. Kostylev comes running into the room, starts screaming, Ashes beside himself grabbed him by the collar and shakes him. Here, a yawn is heard singing on the stove, and Luka comes down from the oven. Kostylev escaped with a cry. Ash asks roughly why Luka is there, because he had to leave. He responds that he was lucky and heard a criminal conspiracy, too, for the happiness of Basil Ashes. Luke insists that Ash does not contact this devil. He is sure that she will bring trouble to Ashes, and advises with Natasha to leave this place.
Finally, Luke remembered about Anna. It turned out that she was dead. The actor enters, reads poetry. Natasha comes in after him, laughs at him. The actor was going to leave, he wants to find the same hospital in which he will get rid of his alcoholism. Everyone here understands that Anna is dead. The Tatar insists that the body be carried, but no one wants to do it. The tick worries that he does not have money for a funeral. Curve Zob advises him to take, promises to help a little with money. Gradually, everyone wanders around in their corners, intending to sleep.
The room includes the Actor and Satin. They are drunk, roaring, shouting. Satin says that the dead do not care, they do not hear, they do not feel. The Tatar escapes from the room. Luke appears in the doorway.
The situation is a yard place, cluttered with various rubbish. Natasha and Nastya are sitting on a log. Luke and the Baron are on the level. The tick lies on a heap of a tree at a wall, and in a window at the ground the face of Bubnov sticks out.
Nastya talks about her novel with the student, inserting into it clearly book words and expressions. Bubnov and Baron do not believe her, they laugh, Luka persuades them not to interfere with the story.
But they do not stop, and then Luke takes Nastya away from ridicule. Nastya is afraid that this novel was in reality. Luke says he believes her.
Natasha also believes that lies are more pleasant than truth. She confesses that she is also inventing and waiting for someone special. Who is good to live with? “Everything is bad,” says Natasha. The tick, still immobile, suddenly brightens up. He shows offense, it’s not bad for everyone, if only for everyone, then it would not be insulting.
The Baron understands that one must go to Nastya to make peace, otherwise she will not give money. Bubnov, however, speaks of Luka, that he lies a lot and without any benefit for himself. Appeared Luke advises the Baron not to stop Nastya from crying, since it brings her pleasure. And tells Natasha and Bubnov the story of how he taught two thieves. At first he forced at gunpoint rifles to tear off each other for humility. And then fed them until spring. And then they left. The main idea in the story of Luke – the prison does not teach good, Siberia will not teach, but man will teach. In response to his story, Bubnov says that, in his opinion, it is necessary to speak only the truth. To these words, Mite suddenly jumps up again, like a burned one, and screams that the truth is terrible. There is no work, there is no shelter, one can not live – that’s the truth. He curses that truth, because of which he understands his position.
Ash is slowly coming out from behind the corner. He wondered where Natasha’s relatives were. She replies that they went to the cemetery, then to the all-night service. At this time, Luke tells Bubnov a parable about a man who is looking for a righteous land. This man endured all his life and was tormented, believing that there is in the world a righteous land that is inhabited by special good people. He was very poor, but he endured and lived only for the sake of this land. And here in this place send the scientist. And the person asks to be found on maps, where this righteous land. The scientist could not find it, the man did not believe, insisted. And then, realizing that there was no such land, he beat up the scientist and managed to do it.
Everyone is silent. Then Ashes says that the story is not good. And Luke says that he will soon go to the khokhl, there they opened a new faith. Who is looking for, he will find, he is sure. Ash at Luka suggests Natasha to leave together. Natasha doubts, because she does not really like Ashes. Vasilisa appears under the window, silently listens. Not noticing her, Ashes says unpleasant things about her, that she is greedy for money, that she needs a will. Natasha is embarrassed, she does not know if it’s her way. But Vaska and Luke insist that it will be better that she can correct Vaska, make him another person. Natasha almost agrees, only warns that if at least once Ash strikes or otherwise offends, she will do something with herself.
Vasilisa could not resist, said that Natasha was not afraid of Ashes. He does not know how to beat or love. Natasha goes to set up the samovar, so Kostylev, who returned, ordered her. Ash speaks with Kostylev, that now she is his, and to stop commanding her. However, Vasilisa deliberately incites the Ashes to a quarrel, disappears with the words “I’ll arrange a wedding for you”.
Kostylev enters into a conversation with Luke. He is sure that a stranger is the person who does not interfere in the affairs of others, should not interfere with anyone. Luka is not a stranger for him, but a man without a passport. Vasilisa enters, calls her husband to drink tea. He calls Luka. After their departure, Luke seriously decides to leave tonight. Bubnov supports him, says that it is necessary to leave on time. He tells his instructive story. His wife contacted the master. And so they got along together, that Bubnov decided – or poisoned him, or did something else. He began to beat his wife, and the master – it. In anger Bubnov decided to kill his wife, but in time changed his mind and left. The workshop was on his wife, and he remained a beggar.
Enter Satin and the Actor. They argue, Satin does not want the actor to leave. He asks that Luka confess to his lies, so that he does not give too much hope to the Actor. The actor is confident that he will succeed. He did not drink, he worked on the street, he earned money for the journey. Satin asks for this money for the drunk, but the actor is adamant. Satin talks about his youth. It turns out that he was in prison for killing one scoundrel. He does not like to talk about this story, because his sister, because of which everything happened, has died. Satin draws attention to the tick. He is depressed, he now has no tools – they ate all the funeral. He does not know what to do next, because he has a shame in front of people.
Natasha’s cry comes from the window of Kostylevs. Satin, Luke, the Actor and Bubnov are going to watch what’s wrong. It turns out that Vasilisa beat her sister and scalded her feet with boiling water. Satin tries to restrain Vasilisa, who still can not stop at her atrocity. Medvedev grabs Satin, he calls Ash, who, jumping out of the alley, silently pushes everyone. Kostylyov runs around the corner, shouting for help, Ashes swings and beats the old man. Ash asks Natasha, what happened to her? At this time, Vasilisa sees that the husband is dead. He calls the police and points to Ash – the killer. Ashes rushes and on her too, but Satin and Crooked Zob pull him. Satin tells Peple that he will go to the witnesses so that he will not be afraid. Vasily tells him that Vasilisa was telling him to kill her husband. Natasha, hearing this, concludes – Ashes and Vasilisa all arranged.
The situation is one act. There is no room for Ashes, there is no anvil Mite. The tick repairs the harmonica, Satin, Baron and Nastya sit in front of the table with vodka and beer. The actor fumbles on the stove. They talk about Luka, call him a curious old man. Nastya admits that she fell in love with him, such an all-knowing one. The Tatar says that the old man had a law in his soul. The tick confirms that everyone should live the gospel, not just so. Nastya breaks away, everything has become disgusted with her, all her life, all people. Satin advises her to take with him the actor, because he, too, was going to leave.
The actor worries, he calls all ignoramuses, savages. Satin accuses Luka of the fact that it was he who disfigured Nastia and the Actor, prokvasil all. The tick says that Luke beckoned to them, and the road did not say that he disliked the truth. Satin tries to reassure him and the Baron. He objected that the old man was not a charlatan and lied out of pity for people. Luka understood that man is true, but he lied to comfort and reconcile. Satin says that the old man cleansed him, like an acid to an old coin.
The Baron remembers his family, his family, his horses, his cooks. Nastya begins to play a trick on him, saying that it was not. The baron is angry, Nastya is triumphant, now it became clear to him what a person who does not believe.
Satin asks Nastya about Natasha. It turned out that she had left the hospital for a long time and was gone. Residents of the doss house are discussing the end of Vasilisa’s and Ash’s case, Nastya is sure that Vasilisa will turn over at the trial, and Vaska will be sent to penal servitude. And he adds that all of them would have to be sentenced to hard labor.
The baron tells Nastya that she is not equal to him, she replies that he lives by her, like a worm apple. The men laugh at her, and she runs away. The Tatar performs a prayer. Satin asks the Baron not to interfere with him, continues his reasoning about the man. Man is truth, and everything is in man. He is free, according to Satin, and everything is for him. The main idea sounds: the person – it sounds proudly! Man is above satiety.
The Baron does not know how to argue. He says that he has a fog in his head. He studied, married, served in the state chamber, then he was convicted of embezzlement of state money. He left the prison for the poor and began to live in this doss house. Satin says that man is born for the better.
The actor asks Tatar to pray for him, to which the Tatar responds, so that the Actor himself prayed. The actor quickly climbs down from the stove, drinks vodka and runs into the canopy with the word “gone.” In the room appear Medvedev and Bubnov. Bubnov gives all his capital to Satin. Alyoshka runs in through the door, he sings chastushki. Zob enters, followed by a few new doss-house residents. Kvashnya is looking for his Medvedev, scolds him for his impotence, sends him to sleep. She scolds Alyoshka for spreading rumors about her. Alyoshka, Crooked goiter, Tatar, Bubnov, Satin drink and tighten the song. The Baron runs into the room, he screams that the actor was stranded in the wasteland. Satin: “Spoiled the song, fool.”