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Last Updated on October 3, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 2188

Act 1, Scene 1

Rachel is at home with her husband, Tom. Rachel waxes rhapsodic about her overwhelming love of Christmas. She wants to go to Alaska, thinking it an idyllic place where it must always be Christmas. Her extreme cheer leads her to proclaim that she thinks she will be “terminally happy.” Tom reveals that he has taken out a contract on Rachel’s life. Believing it to be a cruel joke, Rachel is hurt but does not believe there is any physical threat. Tom, seemingly rethinking his plot, warns her to flee. Glass shatters, and Rachel climbs out the window.

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Act 1, Scene 2

On the phone at a gas station in her nightclothes, Rachel lightheartedly tries to tell her neighbor Jeanette what has happened. She ultimately backtracks, calls herself a “kidder,” and wishes Jeanette a Merry Christmas. Lloyd, a stranger, approaches. Rachel screams but instantly recovers and chats casually with the man. Lloyd offers her a ride. She initially declines but quickly changes her mind.

Act 1, Scene 3

In Lloyd’s car, Rachel introduces herself as Mary Ellen Sissle. Both characters vacillate between sharing factual and fictitious details of their lives. Rachel declares she has no family and is unmarried, tossing her wedding ring out the window to prove it. Within a few lines, she is talking about her family and sons. Lloyd speaks of his girlfriend, Pooty. They also discuss whether anyone can truly know another person. Rachel reveals that her parents have died, and Lloyd announces that Rachel will “spend Christmas with us.”

Act 1, Scene 4

Rachel and Lloyd are in Lloyd’s living room. Pooty enters in a wheelchair. Lloyd is warm and affectionate toward Pooty, who we learn is paraplegic and deaf. The three open impromptu Christmas gifts.

Act 1, Scene 5

Rachel is back on the phone with Jeanette. Rachel says she had a great Christmas with cousins and asks Jeanette to check in on her boys.

Act 1, Scene 6

Lloyd encourages Rachel to stay for as long as she likes. Rachel objects, saying she needs shoes and a job. Pooty retrieves a lapful of shoes.

Act 1, Scene 7

Rachel starts working for the not-for-profit humanitarian foundation where Pooty and Lloyd work. Her new supervisor, Roy, introduces her to Trish, whom she will be working with. Rachel asks Trish how her Christmas was. Trish curtly responds that she is “not a big fan of Christmas,” because her parents were killed when she was six months old.

Act 1, Scene 8

Back at the house, Rachel discusses her new job. Lloyd leaves the room, and Pooty speaks. Pooty insists that Lloyd cannot find out that she is not actually deaf, because “it would break his heart.” Pooty explains that she used to have “another name and another life” and faked deafness because she didn’t think her handicap was severe enough to warrant special attention from Lloyd. She tells Rachel that Lloyd also used to have a different name and ran away from a bad marriage. Rachel assures Pooty, “I’m not judging you.” Rachel asks if Pooty thinks Lloyd would ever want to hurt Pooty. Pooty replies, “Sure. It wouldn’t be love, would it?” Pooty becomes suspicious that someone tried to hurt Rachel and suggests she go to therapy.

Act 1, Scene 9

Rachel is talking to a therapist, called the First Doctor. She starts by saying there isn’t any real problem. She then recounts the night she ran away from her husband, speaking mostly about how she thought Tom was upset because he sensed that Rachel wanted a puppy. She speaks about the contract on her life and the gas station and Pooty pretending to be deaf. The psychiatrist asks, “When did you have this dream?”

Act 1, Scene 10

At the office, Rachel admits to Lloyd that Trish doesn’t have her do anything but file and care for the storeroom. She suggests that she doesn’t necessarily trust Trish’s backstory or anyone...

(The entire section contains 2188 words.)

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