Even his marriage to Sonya Behrs, a social equal, is not enough to cure Tolstoy of his folly, as he begins to pursue his old love with renewed effort. Aksinia, meanwhile, has given birth to a son with a strong resemblance to Tolstoy himself. Sonya, Aksinia and Tolstoy are locked into a love triangle that resists the passage of time.
Rath will play Tolstoy, leading a cast of local actors who include Theater in the Open veterans Michael Thurston, Beth Randall and Jessica Rybicki. They will be joined by two Boston actors performing courtesy of Actors' Equity Association.
Lement is also the author of "Salem's Daughters," "King George III vs. Ruth Blay," and "Dolphins: The Myth of Persephone." Mostashari is the author of a historical work, "On the Religious Frontier: Tsarist Russia and Islam in the Caucasus."
Near the end of his life, Lement said, Tolstoy was thought of as nearly a saint in his native Russia. He said he wanted to be remembered as the complex man he was.
In "Woman with the Red Kerchief," Tolstoy gets his wish, Lement said.
"We're showing the good , the bad and the ugly," she said.
'Red Kerchief' cast
Jeffrey Rath of Newburyport, Leo Tolstoy
Jesica Corbo of Boston, as Aksinia
Matt Kiely of Newburyport, Andrei
Beth Randall of Newburyport, Dunyasha
Shelby Steeves of Newburyport, Valerya
Michael Thurston of Amesbury, Old Daniel
Jeff Larson of West Newbury, Ermil
Ashley Risteen of Byfield, Sonya Behrs
Jessica Rybicki of Amesbury as Mademoiselle Vergani
Kathleen Patrick Donohue of Boston (performing courtesy of Actors' Equity Association), Aunt Tatyana
Susan Lombardi-Verticelli of Boston, Mademoiselle Vergani
Paul Rivenberg of Boston, Ivan Turgenev
IF YOU GO
What: "Woman with the Red Kerchief" by Wendy Lement and Firouzeh Mostashari
When: Saturdays and Sundays through Sept, 28 at 2 p.m.
Where: Maudslay State Park, Curzon Mill Road, Newburyport
How Much: Tickets $8 adults, $5 students/seniors. However, admission to Saturday's opening afternoon performance is free.
Note: Allow a 10-minute walk to the play site. Performances go off rain or shine. Call 978-465-2572 or log onto www.theaterintheopen.org.