The setting is the backyard of a Brooklyn tenement on the last day of summer vacation, where a group of children aged five to fourteen (portrayed by adult actors) are at play. Finding a dying bird they decide to have a ritual burial, which leads to the discovery of a bag of money, probably buried by a reclusive miser who had recently died in the adjacent building. This discovery, in turn, results in squabbles and bitterness among the children, as the microcosm of their games gradually yields an awareness of greed, betrayal and violence—elements of life heretofore unknown to them but, regrettably, so much a part of the grownup world that they are approaching. In a sense the play, with deft irony and lively humor, marks the coming of age of the children, as the carefree innocence of youth is sobered by the emergence of emotions that, while not yet fully comprehended, will have a profound effect on their lives in the years to come.
First presented by New York's Public Theatre, this strikingly imaginative and perceptive play uses seemingly minor events in the lives of children (played by adult actors) to foreshadow the more crucial demands of the "real world" which they will inhabit as adults. "It is a marvelous play full of resonance, with writing that is both dense and lucid at the same time…a thought-provoking play suffused with the poetry of reality." —NY Post. "…full of laughs of recognition at kids' hyperbole and the seriousness with which they invest what we, as adults, consider trivial." —Village Voice. "…a funny and, at times, touching account of childhood pains and pleasures." —Associated Press.