Summary: The Follet Family is spread out across Tennessee and meet together in Act One for an annual picnic where familial tensions and allegiances are explored for the first time. The family quietly notes that this will probably be the last time they see their Great Grandma. In Act 2, a phone call summons Jay home because his own aging father (John Henry) is in some sort of medical trouble. He makes the trip and subsequently calls home to say that he will be back home soon because it was a false alarm. When he doesn't come home, the phone eventually rings again to inform his pregnant wife Mary that he has been instantly killed in an accident. The third and final act of the play is set in the hours before the funeral, and once again explores how families interact with each other in times of both normalcy and tragedy.
Thoughts: This play is an adaptation of James Agee's novel A Death in the Family (which also won a Pulitzer Prize). Though the play is set in 1915 and contains references to the "war between the states" and repeated usages of the N-word, it retains timeless appeal because it examines the way that normal families interact--strained individual relationships and a common bond. I think that this play will continue to retain much of its timelessness because of the central idea that families (consciously or unconsciously) prepare for certain deaths, but not others.