The time is winter, the place a chilly summer house on Long Island, where Allen and Charlotte, after twenty spendthrift years together, are "hiding out" —burning bogus art works for heat and raiding a neighbor's back porch for food. They are joined, unexpectedly, by Terry, a nun facing a crisis of belief, and then by Martin, a failed Broadway playwright, and his new wife. Terry and Martin are brother and sister, and Charlotte, years ago, was the girl whom Martin's mother had chosen as his intended bride. But this, like so many well-meant plans, never came to pass—nor, for that matter, did most of the hopes and dreams that all had held in their promising, and much happier, youth. The house they had come together in belonged to Bess, departed mother of Martin and Terry, who appears as a "vision" now and again to evoke the past or comment on the present—and to bring into focus the funny, albeit desperate and ultimately touching, plight to which all these zany yet very human and believable people have come.