The setting is a classroom where an eager young teacher is about to tackle her first assignment—teaching basic English to a group of new citizens, not one of whom speaks the same language as another. Included are an excitable Italian, an over-eager Frenchman, a near-sighted German, an elderly Chinese woman and a Japanese girl. The one thing that they manage to convey to each other is that their respective names all mean "wastebasket," but struggle as she will, the teacher, Debbie, is hard-pressed to bring them beyond this point of communication. Fortunately the voice of an offstage translator enables the audience to understand what those onstage cannot comprehend, but this does not help the sorely pressed Debbie, whose frustration is increased by her fear of a mugger lurking outside the door. Rigid and pedagogical at first, she becomes more frantic and desperate as her lack of success with her charges mounts, and the wonderfully funny misunderstandings multiply, until, at last, all self-control (and sanity) vanish into total, and totally hilarious, panic.
"An hilarious comedy of true originality. "…a gem of an idea…a soufflé with a clever recipe and a taste you will not forget in a hurry." —NY Times. "Wonderfully funny, gloriously observant…" —NY Magazine. "…the playwright has erected a comic Tower of Babel that has the audience in stitches." —The Hollywood Reporter. "…a tour de force of stunning originality." —Village Voice.