The setting is the rubbish-strewn backyard of Betty's rundown bungalow near a U.S. Air Force base in rural England. Deserted by a succession of lovers, Betty makes ends meet by selling herself to the young airmen, while her current live-in boyfriend, the brutish Ted, supplies them with drugs. Also living with her are her daughters Rita (who has a husband in prison and children in state custody) and Cherry (who was brain damaged at birth), and her son, Kenny (a brooding bodybuilder who is suspected of having murdered an American serviceman). The action of the play is impelled by the return of another son, Jimmy, who stops by with his friend Bobby, a black American ex-serviceman, to announce that they are headed for the United States to open a custom car shop. Their grandiose dreams of prosperity and a better life exacerbate the feelings of hopelessness and anger which infuse the others and lead to the explosive climax of the play, in which Jimmy and Bobby, despite the pleas of Rita and Cherry to take them along, depart alone, and the seething Kenny, his frustration boiling over, turns on the taunting, foul-mouthed Ted and dispatches him with a steel wire garrote.
A powerful, provocative examination of the unrest and disenchantment which beset much of present-day England. The play was a critical and popular success at London's famed Hampstead Theatre, earning comparisons to the works of Sam Shepard and Tennessee Williams. "…a piece about the death of youthful expectation, about what happens in a country that has lost its ability to nurture." —Time Out NY. "The play exerts a complete hold…" —Manchester Guardian. "It's forceful stuff, great on suspense, construction and situation…" —City Limits.