The play opens on a late Sunday afternoon in the parlor of the Borden house in 1902, in Fall River, Massachusetts. Miss Lizzie enters with tea for the Actress, who protests she doesn't like the tea and toast routine while Lizzie puzzles over the proper way to pour tea. Lizzie worries that Fall River is a little boring for the Actress. She says she is there to see Lizzie. She gives a report about how her rehearsals are going. She reports hearing children in the alley singing a little song about Lizzie killing her parents.
Lizzie asks if she defended her. The Actress reports she closed the window. They put on a record and dance as the Actress tries to figure out if Miss Lizzie looks jowly, a comment made m news reports during the trial. The Actress complains that Lizzie never tells her anything, when Lizzie fails to respond to the question of whether she committed the crane or not.
Lizzie wonders aloud whether part of the Actress's success is due to her connection with an infamous accused murderess such as herself. The Actress bristles at this, but Lizzie says that, ten years after the events, people still talk about her and the crime Lizzie complains that Emma keeps asking, "did you?" The Actress starts to imitate Emma, carrying on both sides of an imaginary conversation with Lizzie's older sister.
The Actress says she wants lo know the truth. Lizzie suggests they play a game in which the Actress will play Miss Lizzie and Lizzie will play Bridget, the maid the family had in 1892.
The action shifts to Lizzie's murder trial that took place ten years before. The Defense questions Lizzie as Bridget, and she describes the Borden family, including the visit of Harry, Mrs. Borden's brother. This recollection dissolves to another Hash-back to the Borden home. Harry has arrived, and it is clear that the purpose of his visit is money, either for himself or his sister, who is Mr. Borden's second wife. Lizzie had Harry thrown out the last time he visited. He wonders what Bridget is doing with bread crusts. She says they are for Lizzie's pigeons, and Harry says Lizzie prefers animals to people. The Actress, now playing Lizzie, appears and Harry slips off to split wood.
After Bridget reports a conversation between Mr. Borden and his brother-in-law. Lizzie calls Harry a stupid bugger, flustering Bridget with her foul language. Lizzie voices her concern that Harry is only visiting to connive more money out of her father. Emma appears, complaining of the noise that has kept her from sleep. Emma indicates she's heard Lizzie's bad language. Emma doesn't want to deal with the reality of the family farm, which is in financial ruin, or Harry's schemes to get more of their father's money. Lizzie tries to make her talk about it.
Mrs. Borden, the girls' stepmother, comes down for breakfast and questions Bridget about Harry's appearance and whether Lizzie knows he's here. She comes to the conclusion that Lizzie is really quite spoiled, There is obvious tension between Mrs. Borden and Lizzie revolving around Mr. Borden's money. Mr. Borden appears and they discuss Lizzie and a widower, Johnny MacLeod, who is interested in her. Her father pressures Emma to talk with Lizzie. She goes off in a huff, unwilling to be the family mediator and communicator.
The scene shifts to Dr. Patrick and Lizzie talking outdoors, where...
(The entire section is 1384 words.)