It is one in the morning on a freezing New York night when struggling novelist Harry Levine comes pounding furiously on the door of his best friend, photographer Jake Manheim. Harry has all of a dollar and a half in his pocket and Jake owes him a substantial amount of money. Jake has even less money on hand than Harry, but what is worse he has not, he declares, read the manuscript of Harry's latest novel, a work on which Harry's last hope is pitched. Or has he? Relentlessly, obsessively, the desperate Harry probes the sardonic, world-weary Jake until the truth is finally revealed. Not only has Jake read the book and found it to be a thinly disguised account of their lives, loves and failures but believes it to be a work of truly commercial promise, and perhaps of genuine artistic merit. Fiercely jealous, believing himself to have been potentially the writer Harry has indeed become, the failed photographer attempts to destroy his friend's one chance to rise. The final moments of the play explode as Harry gains the courage to continue living and affirms his right to succeed.
This intriguing character study follows two middle-aged best friends as their volatile relationship comes to a head. "CHINESE COFFEE is the kind of talkathon drama—two guys slugging it out in a wordfest mixture of disclosure and recrimination—that Strindberg once made so peculiarly his own…What is important is how cleverly Lewis has drawn these characters." —NY Post. "[A] fascinating and exhilarating play…highlighted by vibrant and vivid language…The verbal sparring and mental games of two old friends, is very funny stuff…" —WCBS-TV.