THE STORY: In George Oppenheimer's words: "As always with Mr. Albee there is a theme beneath the surface, in this case the corruption of money and the rottenness of this bigoted exurbia where conformity to its illiberal standards and its hypocritical show of respectability is all that counts. The scene is the suburban home of Jenny and Richard, beautifully played by Barbara Bel Geddes and Barry Nelson. The only thing that seems to stand in the way of their happiness is a lack of money. The action starts in an entertaining comedy of manners style. Then abruptly there enters a Mrs. Toothe in the menacing and fascinating person of Beatrice Straight who offers Jenny the opportunity to make more money than they have ever had, to buy a greenhouse and all the other luxuries that they require for their garden and their lives. Richard's realization that their newfound money is being earned by his wife's whoring comes almost simultaneously with the return of their fourteen-year-old son from school and a champagne cocktail party which they are giving to impress their country club friends. As a result, his horror, disgust and rage has to be kept under wraps in order to keep up essential appearances until tragedy strikes, and Richard realizes that the assembled wives are all involved and their husbands are aware and condoning." More than that, they are prepared not merely to justify but defend the ends through which their means are attained—and the devastated Richard, left in agonized despair by the ironic events that charge the final moments of the play, must face the fact of his own share in their communal guilt.
A Broadway success, this brilliant, biting play blends humor, irony and suspense in its scathing examinations of contemporary suburban mores. "…the first important American play of the season." —NY Post. "…altogether absorbing and original." —NY Newsday. "Mr. Albee is not merely our most hopeful playwright, our most promising playwright, our most interesting playwright—he is, quite simply, our best playwright." —NY Times.