Things are not going well at the Gallagher Publishing Company, an old-line textbook house which is faced with mounting losses because of the failure of its latest publishing venture. Staving off financial ruin is the pressing problem, and the men who head up the company have varying opinions as to how to deal with the crisis. Elliot Gallagher, the ineffectual son of the former (and very dynamic) president (and now president himself) wants to bring in a rather shady outside investor, but his colleagues fear that this would lead to a takeover which could cost them their cushy jobs. Marty Blasingame, the meek-mannered company treasurer, urges that they file for bankruptcy; while Casey McDermott, the hard-driving veteran sales manager, has a more draconian suggestion—burn down their warehouse and collect the insurance money. They even go so far as to interview a professional arsonist, who proves to have more conscience than they do when he turns down the job because of the possibility of harming people in nearby tenements. One glimmer of hope is an imaginative new educational program devised by the resourceful editorial chief, Carolyn McNeil, but where to find the money to develop it? In the end Elliot, after wrestling with the spectre of personal as well as professional disaster, pulls himself together and decides to invest his own money in the business—a move considered radical in corporate circles but, in this instance, perhaps the only way to salvage not only the company but also the integrity of those committed to it.
Widely produced by America's leading regional professional theatres, this bitingly perceptive, yet very funny play, brings compassion and wit to its study of a phenomenon far too often encountered in contemporary society—dishonesty and even criminal behavior among those in the higher echelons of corporate structure. In this case the action involves a foundering textbook publisher, and the desperate measures contemplated by its top executives to help keep it afloat. "The play is written with great wit and style. Gilles has a fine ear for the way company men talk and draws his characters with precise strokes." —Santa Monica Evening Outlook. "Gilles writes sharp dialog and finds humor nearly everywhere the script takes him." —Variety. "He can find the humor in any situation because he knows where the heart is." —Drama-Logue.