In Petroushka, Clark has reinterpreted a Russian folk story of suffering humanity and presented it as a puppet theatre. Clark has chosen to depict the moment when poor Petroushka has been caught as a thief and is being beaten by a policeman holding a pistol, and a truncheon. To his side, a rich, pot-bellied capitalist sniggers as he raises the bags of money he has paid to the police.
The restless crowd, which consists of various members of the community, includes the artist as she stands with her young baby in the background as a witness to the event.
The man in the foreground raises his fist in the salute of the Popular Front, the European leftist alliance, while the faces and actions of the other spectators reflect varying degrees of concern, anger and indifference. A drum-beating narrator points his finger towards the show, as if to suggest to the spectators that the fate of Petroushka could very well be their own.