THE STORY: It is 1925. Horace and his wife, Elizabeth, have two sons, and Horace is making a modest living as proprietor of his own clothing store. Called to Houston due to his mother’s sudden illness and impending surgery, Horace and Elizabeth and other relatives, converge on the hospital waiting room. The action of the play then delves into developments in other branches of the clan. Horace’s sister, Lily Dale, has married well and is now a mother, as well as mistress of a large house replete with a baby grand piano in the parlor and two Packards in the garage. Spoiled as ever, she also has ambitions for a musical career—success in which has been predicted by a fortune teller. Cousin Lola and her husband, Monty, relate how Horace turned down a chance at a fortune in an oil prospecting deal—an opportunity which has enabled them to plan a grand tour of Europe. After Corella, Horace’s mother, pulls through her surgery successfully, they all disperse, only to meet again during a surprise visit to Horace’s store in Harrison several months later. Lily Dale has been cheated out of $2000 by an unscrupulous music publisher, who promised her fame and fortune; and Lola and Monty, just returned from their trip, are all too glad to be home, having found Europe to be a place full of “four-flushers.” The play ends on a poignant note, with Horace and Elizabeth sharing memories with a tipsy, ne’er-do-well cousin. And we become aware that Horace has found a stability within himself and his marriage which will hold him steady for the future, in contrast to the dissolute cousin—who is a reminder of earlier, and less happy periods, in Horace’s own life.
One of the later plays included in The Orphans’ Home Cycle
, a nine play cycle which chronicles the lives of the Robedaux family of Harrison, Texas.
While maintaining the story of Horace Robedaux as its central theme, COUSINS develops the scope of the saga by interweaving the lives and personalities of near and distant cousins of the clan with the life of Horace.