Mikhail Bulgakov wrote his famous play in 1925 on a commission from the Vakhtangov Theater. Its premiere took place, directed by Alexei Popov, in 1926, shortly after which the play was removed from the repertoire for “defaming Soviet reality.”
The events described by Bulgakov occur in the NEP era - a time of abrupt changes, bold ventures and shattered hopes. The mistress of a seamstress’ studio, the 35-year-old Zoika, arranges visits among rich "grooms" and beautiful "models" in her home. She does it all for the sake of her lover and for the realization of their shared dream: to save up money in order to escape from Soviet Russia.
The risky venture ends in failure - Bulgakov accurately described the horror of a Soviet citizen being confronted by plainclothes secret policemen who come after the “criminals.” genre of tragic buffoonery defines both the character of this cheerful but terrible play, and the life that Moscow led in the short decade between the 1920s and 1930s.