Having married an American serviceman during his wartime stint in England, Iris has looked forward to coming to the United States—to the glittering, glamorous world she has seen depicted in Hollywood movies. But her new husband's home turns out to be Willard Patch, Pennsylvania, a grimy, depressed coal mining town where life is drab and hardscrabble. And her new family isn't much better: Her husband, Joe, is content to live on welfare; her father-in-law is a bigoted tyrant who speaks broken English; her slightly retarded sister-in-law, Katrine, is resentful at having to give up her bedroom; and it is only with her stolid, long-suffering mother-in-law, Marie, that Iris senses the possibility of rapport. Centering on the relationship which grows between these two, and which eventually includes Katrine as well, the action of the play moves inexorably and powerfully through a series of crises—some hilarious, some deeply stirring—which bring Iris both the understanding she needs to comprehend her fate, and also the strength to break away and seek a better life for herself and her infant daughter.
Initially presented by the prestigious Yale Repertory Theatre, the play is both a revealing study of the men who labor in the mines and a poignant statement about the strong bonds of sisterhood which exist between the women who share their lives. "…a first-class character study; a brilliant probing into the motives and values of a troubled, close, proud, humble, honest working-class family. It is a solid piece of entertainment." —Bridgeport Herald. "…Betsko's play is unfailingly involving, written with humor, pain and understanding." —Hartford Courant. "Playwright Betsko has written a trio of strong, totally believable women, each of whom are granitic in their own way…" —Trumbull Times.