The opening scene sets the stage for the play by introducing the main acting area, which is the combination living and dining room of Eddie's apartment. Eddie is a working man and his flat is correspondingly sparsely furnished, although clean with a comfortable feeling of home. The central props are the portable phonograph, a rocking chair down front, and Eddie's round table with chairs at center stage.
Backstage are two doors through which no interiors are shown. One door leads to the bedroom and the other to the kitchen. Occupying right forestage is a desk that represents Mr. Alfieri's law office. An presently unused telephone booth also occupies right forestage near the law office. while ramps representing the streets outside the apartment run right to left stage and upstage. A stairway leads from one street to Eddie's apartment.
While a foghorn sounds in the distance, the scene opens with Mike and Louis pitching coins at stage left outside. Alfieri, the lawyer passes Mike and Louis, exchanging nods of acknowledgement, as he crosses to stage right to his office. Alfieri acts as narrator, directly addressing the audience. In his initial narration, he introduces himself and the general atmosphere of the neighborhood, which has an uneasy alliance with lawyers and the law in general.
Alfieri goes on to describe the neighborhood as the "slum that faces the bay on the seaward side of Brooklyn Bridge. This is the gullet of New York." He introduces the protagonist of the play, Eddie, and explains that he, like Mike and Louis, is a longshoreman. The scene changes and Eddie and Louis enter into conversation with Catherine, who enters from the kitchen's backstage door and who is all dressed up, while Alfieri moves out of his office into darkness.
[For the opening scene, read it in the Look Inside book at Amazon.com.]