Roads End Branch of the public library is a decaying, ominous place, where no one comes to borrow books any more, despite the efforts of the staff to keep it a going concern. But the tension that hangs in the air affects them too, and they bicker among themselves, egged on by the scheming young temporary staff member who has wormed his way into the head librarian's confidence. Then mysterious phone calls are received, shadowy figures lurk outside, and a pair of unknown young men drop in and prowl aimlessly about the stacks. The head librarian, Mrs. Vickers, is willing to believe that their interest is reading—until the moment of seizure suddenly threatens, and the two young men turn out to be members of a gang of toughs calling themselves the Dunces. Their purpose is to take over the library and destroy it. Surrounded and besieged, Mrs. Vickers and her staff wage a seesaw battle to protect what they have and hold back the tide of ugliness which threatens to engulf them. In the end the night of threatened evil continues unresolved, but the courage and resourcefulness which have come forth to stave off destruction remain resolute as the lights dim and the defenders wait uncertainly for the attack which is sure to come.
On one level the play is a chilling, suspenseful melodrama, and on another a harrowing parable for our time, a warning of the continuing menace of totalitarianism. On either basis it is well written, gripping theatre, which holds the audience in thrall from first to last. "…Gagliano reminds us that drama can begin instantly. In this case terror is in the air, and we feel it right away." —NY World Journal Tribune. "…(a) play of enormous imagination originality, and skill…" —Cue Magazine. "…a tensely holding suspense quality…" —NY Post.