Act One

As the play opens, we are introduced to the Vanderhof/Sycamore family, a lovable group of screwballs who live together in Grandpa Vanderhof’s house by Columbia University in New York City. Every person in the house has his or her own eccentricities: Grandpa turned his back on commerce 35 years ago, so he could happily do things like collect snakes and attend commencement speeches; his daughter, Penny, despite having no previous playwriting aspirations, has written eleven different plays, because someone accidentally delivered a typewriter to their door a number of years before; and Penny’s husband, Paul, spends his days making firecrackers in the basement with the help of Mr. De Pinna, an iceman who showed up at their door one day and never left. Paul and Penny have two daughters, Essie and Alice. Essie makes candies and imagines herself to be a prima ballerina; her dance teacher is a proud Russian named Boris Kolenkhov. Essie is married to Ed, who dabbles in music and prints

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