(from the Dramatists Play Service, Inc. catalogue)
Winner of the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award and the Drama Desk Award.
Involves two desparate families connected by the marriage of the son of one (Jake) to the daughter of the other (Beth). As the play begins Beth, brain-damaged from a savage beating that Jake has given her, is being tended by her parents, Baylor and Meg. Jake sends his brother, Frankie, to Montana to see if she is dead or alive, but Beth's father, mistaking Frankie for a poacher, shoots him in the leg and takes him prisoner. Thereafter the tensions and enmities that motivate the two families grow increasingly disturbing and dangerous. Frankie falls in love with Beth, but her brother, Mike, is bitterly determined that she no longer have anything to do with her husband or his loathsome family.
Meanwhile the distraught, hysterical Jake, back home in California, is nursed by his possessive mother, Lorraine, and his sister, Sally, to whom Lorraine is openly hostile. Having gotten Jake back from Beth, Lorraine is determined to keep him with her forever, but Jake soon recovers and sets out to regain his wife. In the end, however, his will fails, and he allows Beth to stay with Frankie; Lorraine burns down her house and departs for Ireland with Sally; and Jake, bereft and alone, seeks communication with his dead father by gently dispersing his ashes into the moonlight-hoping to find order and meaning in the present by coming to terms with the haunting spectres of the past.