Act One

As the curtain rises, Beth Bradley tells the audience about the six disadvantaged, delinquent Herdman siblings -- “the worst kids in the whole history of the world.” Ralph, Imogene, Leroy, Claude, Ollie, and Gladys Herdman enter, and pose in tough, menacing fashion. Beth explains why her brother Charlie likes church -- “No Herdmans.” The Sunday school teacher didn’t like his answer, but it was the most truthful.

The Bradley family is returning home from church, Mr. Bradley scolds Charlie for the “un-Christian sentiment” expressed about the Herdmans, and there is more discussion of that family, until the subject changes to the upcoming annual Christmas pageant. Charlie does not want to be in it, and Mr. Bradley doesn’t want to go see it, but Mrs. Bradley is adamant that they will all participate. Mr. Bradley tells the news that Mrs. Armstrong, a strong-minded community leader type who usually directs the pageant, has been hospitalized with a broken leg, and the Bradley family

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