The place is the small Mississippi town of Brookhaven, the time a few days before the Fourth of July. Carnelle Scott (known locally as "Miss Hot Tamale") is rehearsing furiously for the Miss Firecracker Contest—hoping that a victory will salvage her tarnished reputation and allow her to leave town in a blaze of glory. The unexpected arrival of her cousin Elain, a former Miss Firecracker winner, (who has walked out on her rich but boring husband and her two small children) complicates matters a bit, as does the repeated threat of Elain's eccentric brother, Delmount, (recently released from a mental institution) to sell the family homestead and decamp for New Orleans. But, aided by a touchingly awkward seamstress named Popeye (who is hopelessly smitten by Delmount) and several other cheerfully nutty characters, Carnelle perseveres—leading to a denouement of unparalleled hilarity, compassion and moving lyricism as all concerned finally escape their unhappy pasts and turn hopefully toward what must surely be a better future.
A long-run Off-Broadway success, this explosively funny play again demonstrates the author's unique gift for finding rich lodes of humor—and simple wisdom—in the zany activities of small-town life. "…the evening's torrential downpour of humor—alternately Southern-Gothic absurdist, melancholy and broad—almost never subsides." —NY Times. "…there is a story, with suspense and conflict—but where it shines is in the imagination of the playwright, in the characters she has created, in the strangeness and depth of their emotions, in the lines written for them to speak, and in her own astonishing, humorous vision." —The New Yorker. "It's a comic volcano of a play, populated by offbeat, but vital, larger-than-life characters…" —The Hollywood Reporter. "These are obviously the kinds of roles actors can happily chomp on…" —Time Magazine.