Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

London flat

London flat. One-room setting for the play’s entire three acts. The time setting is contemporary with the writing. The room is in a run-down house in a run-down area in the west side of London, several of whose districts are mentioned—Shepherd’s Bush, Camden Town, and Finsbury Park. The poor state of the room is instrumental to the plot. A bucket catches rainwater dripping through its leaking roof. The room has no washing or cooking facilities, and there is no heat. The only window is half-covered with a sack, letting in a draft and the rain.

Only Aston’s bed is visible; Davies’ bed is covered by mundane items that form a surreal collection when heaped together. They include a kitchen sink (a nod to the “kitchen-sink” realism of British playwrights of the period), a stepladder, a coal bucket, a lawn mower, a shopping trolley, boxes, and the drawers of a sideboard. All these items must be moved before Davies can sleep on his bed. Beside the bed is a gas stove. Though it is clearly not connected, Davies complains about its presence and the danger of fire or explosion.

Elsewhere in the room are a cupboard containing such items as a clothes horse upon which Davies sometimes hangs his trousers at night, piles of boxes and newspapers, and an electric toaster, which Aston tries to fix throughout the play.

There are other rooms “along the landing” that also belong to the brothers; they are apparently in even worse condition. Beyond the window, to the rear, is an overgrown garden for which Aston has plans—he wants to clear it and build a shed; however, it seems obvious that he never will.