The terrain is 'the London side of Essex', 'theoretical Romford' according to Leigh. Beverly Moss invites her new neighbours, Angela and Tony, who moved into the road just two weeks ago, over for drinks. She has also invited her neighbour Susan (Sue), divorced for three years, whose fifteen-year-old daughter Abigail is holding a party at home. Beverly's husband Laurence comes home late from work, just before the guests arrive. The gathering starts off in a stiff, insensitive, British-middle-class way as the virtual strangers tentatively gather, until Beverly and Laurence start sniping at each other. As Beverly serves more drinks and the alcohol takes effect, Beverly flirts more and more overtly with Tony, as Laurence sits impotently by. After a tirade about art, Laurence suffers a fatal heart attack. Within this simple framework, all of the obsessions, prejudices, fears and petty competitiveness of the protagonists are ruthlessly exposed.