The Retreat from Moscow

A Play About a Family

Publisher: Anchor
How well do we know the people we marry? Is it wrong to decide it’s time to be honest? Is love enough to save a family? In The Retreat from Moscow, William Nicholson, the celebrated author of Shadowlands, tells the powerful story of a husband who decides to be truthful in his marriage, and of the wife and son whose lives will never be the same again.

Edward and Alice have been married for thirty-three years. He is a teacher at a boys school, perfectly at home with his daily crossword and lately engrossed in reading about Napoleon’s costly invasion of Moscow. She is an observant Catholic, exacting and opinionated, and has been collecting poems about lost love for a new anthology. Jamie, their diffident thirty-two year old son, is visiting for the weekend when Edward announces he has met another woman. With the coiled intensity of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing and the embracing empathy of Edward Albee’s best family dramas, The Retreat from Moscow shines a breathtakingly natural light on the fallout of a shattered marriage.



The stage in darkness.

Two armchairs. A table with three upright chairs. A sink, cooker, fridge, and cupboard.

Three people sit motionless in the darkness. edward, a schoolteacher in his late fifties, in one armchair. His wife, alice, about the same age, in the other. Their son, jamie, in...
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“A finely perceptive, eloquently tender and exquisite new play.” —John Simon, New York

“Riveting. . . . Subtle and powerful, [with] marvelous emotional complexity.” —John Lahr, The New Yorker

“A tense family drama. . . . Spare, emotionally brutal.” —Time Out New York

“A truly devastating piece of theater.” —New York Daily News

“The best new play in twenty years. . . . This perfectly written masterwork shimmers with delicacy and precision.” —The Journal News