The place is a small town in rural Utah, where a young mother, Nyda, wages a good-humored struggle to provide a decent, if threadbare, home for her two adolescent sons, Reese and J. Roy, with little help from her ne'er-do-well, alcoholic husband, Myers. J. Roy, the older son, is reserved and pensive, and preoccupied with religion; Reese is hyperactive and disruptive, and sometimes more than Nyda can handle; but both boys (like their mother) are drawn to their soft-spoken uncle, Wells, a bachelor farmer (and Myers' brother) who has become a surrogate father to them and a mainstay of support for their mother. When Myers shows up after another extended binge, the deep-seated animosities that beset the family begin to surface with growing ferocity, as he vents his frustrations with wild boasts of far-fetched money-making schemes and vicious taunts about his brother's obviously deepening regard for the beleaguered Nyda. Inevitably the underlying tensions build to an explosive, fatal climax, which is both shocking and, at the same time, compassionately revealing of the tragic consequences which can ensue when hopefulness and love are overcome by bitterness and despair.
A compelling, affecting and ultimately shattering play which explores the fate of a small-town family drawn inexorably into an explosive and tragic situation. "Playwright Julie Jensen once again uses middle America to illuminate the human condition." —South Bend (Indiana) Tribune. "She writes pungent dialogue and creates flesh-and-blood characters…" —Washington Post. "…a writer worth listening to, just for the texture and truth of her dialogue." —Washington Times. "STRAY DOGS is often downright hilarious." —Washington Post.