1928, Washington, D.C.:
With the Jazz Age in full swing, a group of men and women come
together to create a social circle that serves as their extended
family. Their de-facto leader, Isador, is a flamboyant
bon vivant who presides over nightly dinners. Others include
Max, a portrait artist; Hans, from Germany, trying
his hand as an actor; Muriel, an art gallery owner; Nicky,
whose boyish charm disguises a restless rebel seeking change;
Randall, a pompous hanger-on; and Dash, newly
arrived from the South. Recording it all is Jeb Alexander,
who hopes his diary entries will one day form the basis of stories
he will write.
Act I, Part I
Allies Inn, New York Avenue, Washington,
Photo: courtesy Truman Adkins
Jeb is elated to learn that Dash, whom he had known (and idolized)
at college, has moved onto his floor at the YMCA. Over meals
at Allies Inn (a nearby cafeteria run by the autocratic waitress,
Elsa) and in late-night conversations fueled by bootlegged
cocktails, they re-kindle their friendship. But Dash has come
to Washington to escape a failed relationship and is not seeking
a new one. As they celebrate Jeb's winning a writing competition,
Jeb finally seduces Dash, whose only stipulation is that no one
else can know they are together.
The strain of being in a closeted relationship is taking its
toll: Jeb's obsession with Dash has destroyed what little writing
discipline he had. Although he continues to insist he is working
on stories, his nights are spent drinking and carousing. As Act
I closes, Dash discovers the writings Jeb has promised are only
daydreams and he ends their relationship.
One year later, Jeb still sees Dash and the others, but his drinking
has taken him on a downward spiral. Hustlers like Earle
find him easy prey. After a particularly wild night of drinking
causes him to miss seeing Nicky off into the Navy, Dash denounces
him as an irresponsible do-nothing who will never complete any
stories. Later, after Jeb has begun a novel, the two mend their
differences. The play ends on New Year's Eve, as they drink a
toast to absent friends.
We learn what became of the characters in later years. Jeb finally
understands what Nicky meant when he said, "If you love
someone, a part of yourself endures." Although they have
gone their separate ways, some never to be seen again, a part
of the energy that brought them together as a family still remains...
and always will.