British actor David Suchet

Iniquity (The Kreutzer Sonata) | 1977—1978


Dates and places

Opened at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Birmingham in November, 1977 (closed in December) and then moved to the Royal Court Theatre, London in January, 1978 (closed in February).


Original story by Leo Tolstoy
Dramatic adaptation by Peter Farago
Directed by Peter Farago


David Suchet as Pozdnyshev

About the show

This production is a 75-minute one-man show directed by Peter Farago in his own adaptation, which in no way distorted the original idea of Leo Tolstoy. The audio version of the play was recorded in 1978. In 1979, this version of the performance earned Suchet as narrator the Pye Award in the “Best radio actor” nomination.

From press about the stage production:

“That David Suchet is able to involve us so closely with so unlovely a character as Pozdnyshev, is an acknowledgement of his very considerable technical skill and a tribute to what must be the actor’s own humanity. His performance demands our concentration, and rewards it with a passionate and total involvement in his concern. The setting is simple — a large round-back Victorian chair, and a bubbling samovar (which boils at precisely the right moment). There are no frills to detract from the text, which comes through with great lucidity and passion and a black, self-lacerating humour.” — from “Plays and players”, #24, 1977

From press about the radio version of the play:

“At each comma, Suchet paused long, and what was a description became a confession of ultimate sensual satisfaction. Peter Farago’s superb translation and adaptation of Tolstoy’s little masterpiece allowed Suchet to paint this portrait of a fastidious man endeavouring to explain away the appalling evidence of his own unbounded passions, but I suspect that he is sufficiently rich to offer as many interpretations as Othello.” — from “The Listener”, 1980

About the literary background of the play

“The Kreutzer Sonata” (the original title: «Крейцерова соната», “Kreitzerova Sonata”) is a novella by Leo Tolstoy, named after Beethoven’s “Kreutzer Sonata” (Sonata No. 9 in A Major for piano and violin, Op. 47). The main character, Pozdnyshev, relates the events leading up to his killing his wife. He tells his tragic story to fellow travellers with whom he rides on a train — not only to prevent them from making the same mistake as the one he did, but also to analyse his own actions and to understand at what point he lost control of his marriage.

Tolstoy explores the importance and relevance of love in relationships. The disturbing experiences that Pozdnyshev goes through in his failed marriage give him somewhat of a unique, if not warped, view of love. From his experiences, he comes to three generalizations: that women are inherently deceitful, that relationships between men and women can never be anything but purely physical and that emotional love is only a temporary feeling that can never sustain a strong and long-term relationship such as marriage. From these generalizations he comes to the conclusion that there is no such thing as everlasting love.

“The Kreutzer Sonata” was a significant intellectual event around the world. Its publication, at the beginning of the 1890s, set off an explosive debate in Europe, America and Asia on matters that were then called the “sexual question” and the “woman problem.” Its provocative rejoinders to these debates stirred widespread condemnation from all sides, as well as fervent admiration. Moreover, almost everywhere (including the United States), “The Kreutzer Sonata” was censored or forbidden as “indecent literature.”


The Kreutzer Sonata” by Leo Tolstoy [in English, traslated by Benjamin R. Tucker] at Project Gutenberg

The Kreutzer Sonata” by Leo Tolstoy [in the original Russian] at iLibrary

image from Birmingham Libraries



The Kreutzer Sonata
— from “The Listener”, 1980



“Chastity is not a rule or a precept, but an ideal, or, more correctly, one of its conditions. An ideal is only then an ideal when its realization is possible in the idea only, in thought, when it presents itself as attainable only at infinity, and when, therefore, the approach to it is infinite. If an ideal were not only attainable, but we could imagine its realization, it would cease to be an ideal. Such is Christ’s ideal, the establishment of the kingdom of God upon earth, — an ideal which had been foretold even by the prophets when they said that the time would come when the people would be instructed by God, when the swords would be forged into ploughshares and the spears into sickles, when the lion would lie with the lamb, when all the creatures would be united in love.”

— Leo Tolstoy in “Epilogue to ‘The Kreutzer Sonata’”, 1890 (translation by Professor Leo Wiener)

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© 2012. Design by Daria Pichugina
© 2001—2014. Texts by Daria Pichugina, Adelka
© 2001—2014. Translated by Adelka, Kim Dolce, Elena Ukhina et al.

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