The Mastice brothers, Tony and Larry, have come home to join their sister, Patsie, for the funeral of their mother. After the service they are joined by their mother's sister, Aunt Tillie, and by their long-time family physician, Dr. Carillo, who attended their mother in her final illness. At first the mood is one of warm memories, tempered by "family jokes" and the recollection of childhood antics, but after Dr. Carillo leaves the atmosphere grows tense as Patsie reveals her conviction that their mother died through the doctor's neglect. Incredulous at first, the brothers' doubts gradually give way as Patsie ties the doctor's action to the evil power of their estranged father, a Mafia underlord who abandoned the family many years before. In a gripping scene the brothers wring the truth from Dr. Carillo, and then face the awful dilemma of how to punish the one who is directly responsible for the tragedy—their father. Goaded by the revengeful Patsie they reluctantly take the final, fatal step, avenging their mother, but also shattering their peace of mind for the years to come.
This powerful and affecting play, which enjoyed a long Off-Broadway run, deals with the strong ties that bind an Italian-American family, for better or, as it turns out, for worse. "He has a sharp ear for the grainy talk of ordinary people in the grip of primitive emotions. His characters are full-blown and have an appropriate theatricality." —The Hollywood Reporter. "…the play's undeniable strengths and passion come through." —NY Times. "The playwright is very concerned with roots, with backgrounds, and the simple paraphernalia of life." —NY Post.