A Mother is Constance Congdon's new adaptation of Vassa Zheleznova, Maxim Gorky's biting satire portraying bourgeois family dysfunction in early 20th-century Russia. Vassa and her husband, Zakhar, have worked hard to raise themselves and their children out of serfdom and into bourgeois prosperity. As the curtain rises, Zakhar lies dying of syphilis in an upstairs room, and everyone in the household wants a piece of his legacy. Suspicious that the men of the family are planning to take their money and run, leaving the family dirt farm business and everything she fought so hard for to fall apart, Vassa plots with Mikhail to counteract her colorful clan's intentions of scheming their way out of her house and into financial independence. Forgery, murder, blackmail, adultery, exile, and plain old-fashioned greed are the order of the day as each member of the family scambles for his or her piece of the pie.
Olympia Dukakis heads up the cast as Vassa, the monstrously manipulative matriarch. In the role of Mikhail is Louis Zorich, Dukakis's real-life husband. Carey Perloff directs.