The Play

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

The Hot l Baltimore opens in a hotel lobby with a front desk, a lounge, and a stairway. This set is the Hotel Baltimore of the title, a dilapidated establishment scheduled for demolition. All the play’s action takes place here, as the various employees, residents, and visitors interact with one another and with various other groups that drift in and out of the lobby.

As the play opens, Paul Granger, waiting for Mr. Katz to appear, is asleep in a chair, and Bill is making several wake-up calls while the Girl talks with him. She has tried several names but finds none of them comfortable. As the morning advances, various people appear, beginning with Millie, who complains that she cannot sleep late and later talks about the ghosts that haunted the restaurant where she worked. Then Mrs. Bellotti enters and asks for Mr. Katz; he has evicted her son from the hotel, and she wants Katz to take him back. At that moment, the Girl discovers eviction notices for the hotel’s residents. April enters to complain that the hotel has no hot water, followed shortly by Mr. Morse, whose window will not shut. Jackie, followed by Jamie, whom she constantly orders about, comes in to ask for a favor but then volunteers to shut Morse’s window for him. She borrows his key and goes upstairs as Morse and Jamie begin to play checkers.

When Katz finally arrives, Jackie returns from upstairs and asks him to cosign her loan so she can get insurance for her new car. He refuses. As Suzy enters with a john, Mrs. Bellotti pleads with Katz to let her son, Horse, stay at the hotel. Again, Katz refuses; he claims that Horse is insane and a thief. Mrs. Bellotti goes upstairs to clean out her son’s room. Quietly, Jackie asks Millie when the pawnshop opens; other characters hear the question, a fact that later proves significant. Katz announces that all the hotel’s residents must leave in a month, for the hotel is scheduled to be demolished. This proclamation precipitates an argument. Joining the melee is Suzy, wearing nothing but a towel, who has chased her john into the lobby. This commotion awakens Paul, who begins shouting that the hotel is nothing but a flophouse. When Jamie returns from upstairs and sees the now-naked Suzy, he drops the box he is carrying, revealing goods stolen from the hotel and neighborhood shops. All laugh at him.

Act 2 opens later the same day with...

(The entire section is 975 words.)