The place is a rundown boarding house in the slums of a large American city, the time the 1950s. Charles Blackwell, a writer of popular fiction, is having difficulty in finding an ending for his latest work, The Killer Inside Me, a task made more difficult by the constant intrusions of his fellow roomers. These include his love-starved, slatternly landlady, Wanda; an aged and mentally impaired war veteran, Earl, who is driven to distraction by the sound of Blackwell's typewriter; and Lou, a psychotic young misfit given to violent fantasies and to sleepwalking in his jockey shorts. They are all people filled with angst and desperation and all, in one way or another, seem to be trying to use Blackwell, the outsider, as a means of finding relief from their crabbed circumstances. Then Wanda's violent and hateful husband, an ex-con, suddenly returns after an absence of several years, flashing a roll of bills and vowing to reclaim his wife's "love" despite her loathing for him. Inexorably the action of the play moves from simmering discontent to explosive violence, culminating in a brutal murder which, ironically, provides Blackwell with the freedom and release needed to bring his story to a satisfying conclusion—but leaves the others still trapped in the hell which they, unwittingly or not, have made of their lives.
A brilliantly theatrical excursion into the nightmarish world of a seedy rooming house, and the visiting writer who is drawn into the brutish lives of its denizens. Initially produced by Chicago's renowned Steppenwolf Theater. "…an absolutely brilliant 80 minute exercise in pulp-thriller, film-noir style." —Chicago Sun-Times. "…fascinating excursion into the always alluring crossover worlds of illusion and reality." —Chicago Tribune. "…an entirely satisfying play about unsatisfied people…Lives on the stage are rarely so real." —Variety.