The play is a parable inspired by Chinese play Chalk Circle. Written at the close of World War II, the story is set in the Caucasus mountains of Georgia, and retells the tale of King Solomon and a child claimed by two mothers. A chalk circle is metaphorically drawn around a society misdirected in its priorities. Brecht's statements about class are cloaked in the innocence of a fable that whispers insistently to the audience.
Bertold Brecht (1898-1956) is one of Germany's best-known playwrights. His social critiques, including The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Mother Courage and Her Children and The Threepenny Opera, resonate with modern audiences and continue to be frequently performed. Eric Bentley, one of the foremost authorities on the modern theatre, is a recognized playwright, critic and scholar, and a longtime intimate of Brecht. His most recent book is Bentley on Brecht.