On the day of Konstantin Chernenko's death, 11 March 1985, the coils of an immense epic began to unwind across the stage of the Maly Theatre in Leningrad. The theatre may have been small as its name implied, the company young and unknown, but nothing was allowed to stand in the way of their ambition. Their aim was to tell the story of what one village in North Russia, Pekashino, had endured through fifty years of war, famine and corruption, and to tell it objectively, pulling no punches, but in such a way that the soul of all Russia could be felt to rise above each trial and indignity. Brothers and Sisters was a trilogy, adapted by the Maly's artistic director, Lev Dodin, from a novel by Fyodr Abramov in the nineteenth-century Russian tradition, precisely observed, moral but not moralistic, spiritual. Brothers and Sisters was not an ideological play.