The action takes place over the course of several weeks in August inside the three-story home of Beverly and Violet Weston outside Pawhuska, Oklahoma. The play is reminiscent of Alexandre Dumas, fils' play The Lady of the Camellias (a.k.a. "Camille"), centering as it does on the waning days of a sharp-tongued addicted dying woman who is surrounded by a large cast of eccentric lazy hangers-on revealed as various love-hate relationships unfold. The similarity is emphasized by links between the names of the main characters, "Violet" in Letts' play and "Violetta" in "La Traviata" (the opera made from Dumas' "Camille"). However, at the end of Letts' play, the man is dead and the woman lingers on.

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