The setting is a well-to-do vacation colony on the shores of Lake Erie, the time 1945, during the final stages of World War II. Charlie, an incipiently rebellious fourteen-year-old, is summering with his mother and sister (his father is fighting in the Pacific) before going off to an expensive boarding school in the fall. Although he intended to spend the summer loafing and socializing with his friends, the need for spending money forces him to take a job as handyman for an iconoclastic, bohemian art teacher, Anna Trumbull, a former member of the "upper crust" who has lost both her fortune and her regard for the ideals of her upbringing. Sensing a kindred spirit in Charlie, she tries to stretch his mind by teaching him painting and sculpture—and exposing him to "radical" ideas about life and love which, in time, persuade Charlie to reject the notion of going back to school. The result is a family crisis and, more specifically, a showdown between Anna and Charlie's conservative mother, a clash of philosophies which raises as many questions as it answers and, in the end, stimulates the self-awareness which will shape the man Charlie is destined to become.
A warm-hearted, gently humorous memory play which, in delineating the coming of age of a teenage boy, pinpoints the foibles of the upper-middle-class society of which he is a product. Successfully produced by Off-Broadway's prestigious Circle Repertory Company. "A.R. Gurney's latest and most compelling sojourn into the discreet heart of America's leisure class—the world which he has continued to expose with fondness, wit and biting accuracy." —Other Stages. "The play is warm, touching and humorous, with something to say about the conflict between materialism and idealism which is so basic to the American dream." —The Stage (London). "Bravo to all and particularly a bravo to that new sage and chronicler of the American white middle class, Gurney." —NY Post.