THE STORY: Bess Johnson and Macon Hill are mail-order brides who meet while waiting for their husbands to pick them up to start life in a small town in the Wyoming Territory in the 1860s. Bess is a romantic while Macon Hill is exuberant and determined about getting on with a life in the West, one that promises to be full of possibility. The husbands arrive. Bess, expecting Mike Flynn, gets his brother, Jack. Macon's husband is William Curtis, a widower with one eye and a scarred face. Life becomes very difficult for Bess and Jack, and Bess is constantly abused and totally unappreciated. They struggle—and fail—to make ends meet. On the other hand, Macon is hardly tolerant of William, although the couple is affluent. One Christmas Eve, in a rage, Jack burns down the cabin. Macon and William take the couple in and start living together for a longer time than expected. Bess and Macon, having forged a strong bond, decide that some day they will strike out on their own, though Macon is reluctant to actually do so. Some time later, while celebrating their mutual wedding anniversaries, Jack and Macon become lovers at the same time Bess is abducted by Indians! Macon, Jack and Will continue to live together over the years, believing that Bess has been killed. However, Bess returns, having escaped death by becoming assimilated into Indian life, and now seems incapable of resuming a normal life. During her absence, the fortunes of Macon and Will have greatly diminished. Bess agrees to tell the story of her abduction and escape for publication and the lecture circuit. With the help of a professor, she becomes the country's hottest sensation with this dramatic—and embellished—tale. Jack develops a new love for her, while Macon and Will separate and fail miserably at their new business pursuits. Many years later as Bess is getting ready to retire and Macon is ready to die, the women reconcile as they muse over how they have and have not "savored the boundlessness of it all."
"ABUNDANCE percolates with dark laughter…this is its author's most provocative play in years…Given Ms. Henley's ability to spin the tallest of tales, ABUNDANCE sometimes has the tone of a rambunctious tongue-in-cheek Twain story, with echoes of Thomas Berger's Little Big Man." —NY Times. "a real treat…" —The New Yorker. "Part of the pleasure of the play is seeing the women's differing destinies spelled out deftly, often comically. Henley's gift for the telling image and the absurd situation comes into play regularly." —Variety. "Henley has an unmistakable talent for making human desperation seem funny, complex and unpredictable." —Village Voice.