As the play begins Chuck Popkin, an underpaid assistant editor, is greeted by his wife, Claudia, with the unsettling news that she is leaving him, not for another man but for another woman: Eleanor Lipton in the public relations department. Shortly thereafter his boss, Mr. Barnaby, tells him that his services are no longer required, although he does offer one slim ray of hope if the meek Chuck is man enough to take the risk involved. As it happens, a certain cold-blooded criminal known as "The Cobra," now serving time in the State Prison, is also an exceptional (if primitive) writer, but he refuses to talk with agents or publishers about his work. Chuck's assignment is to get himself put in jail, befriend "The Cobra," and persuade him to let Barnaby's firm publis his book. To everyone's surprise the plan not only works but does so with such success (thanks to Chuck's romantic involvement with "The Cobra") that Chuck ends up taking over the company. Meanwhile Claudia's liaison with Eleanor is not working out quite as happily as expected, so she leaves her to move in with two Costa Rican house painters and then to decamp with Stanley Hitzig, a free spirit who dresses like a Viking and who sets Claudia up in the real estate business in California. When Chuck and Claudia eventually get together again they are, to put it mildly, changed people, but, as the play ends, they decide to give it another go—this time, no doubt, to replace their former mistakes with even more antically outrageous new ones.
A wildly funny farcical comedy by a master of the form. Detailing the hilarious hang-ups of Chuck and Claudia Popkin, the play probes zanily into marital discord, sexual confusion, and the other outlandish vagaries of the publishing field.