*Lebanon. Small south-central Missouri town where the Talley family lives and where Lanford Wilson was born. The Talleys have lived and prospered in Lebanon for generations, and their well-being is firmly grounded in tradition and the status quo. As in other Wilson plays, the Midwest in these plays is peopled with somewhat narrow-minded characters who believe in the American dream. An outsider like Matt Friedman in Talley’s Folly threatens the family’s stability, because he brings new ideas, experiences, and expectations that challenge the foundation of their society. Talleys who venture outside Lebanon also bring danger. Because Timmy is killed in the Pacific during World War II, the family business cannot be handed down as expected in Talley and Son. Ken and June, of Fifth of July, have attended Berkeley and nearly lost their regard for the family and the family home. It is only when Ken returns to the Talley home, and is reunited with his Aunt Sally, who never left, that he comes to understand the importance of family ties.
Boathouse. Elaborate and whimsical Victorian structure on the Talley property, the “folly” of Talley’s Folly. The boathouse was built by Sally’s Uncle Whistler, who also built the town’s bandstand. The folly is not only the setting for Sally and Matt’s encounters, but also a representation of what Matt asks Sally to do: to dare to create something unusual and dreamlike in a town that does not understand such things. The fact that Sally is the only member of her family who still visits the boathouse makes it possible for her to meet Matt there undetected, and shows that she is unlike the rest of her family in being able to appreciate the structure’s quirky beauty.