"The Dark At The Top Of The Stairs" by William Inge

The Dark at the Top of the Stairs is a 1957 play by William Inge about family conflicts during the early 1920s in a small Oklahoma town. It was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play in 1958 and was made into a film in 1960.


Scene: The home of Rubin Flood, his wife and two children in a small Oklahoma town close to Oklahoma City. The time is the early 1920's.

The drama centers on Rubin Flood, who loses his salesman job. While searching for a new job, he must deal with his wife, Cora, who shuns intimacy and mistakes his joblessness for stinginess, his shy daughter who prepares for her first dance and his pre-teen son who runs to his mother instead of dealing with bullies. He tries to find comfort with a friend, Mavis Pruitt, thus setting off rumors of an untoward relationship. In addition to the themes of modernization (i.e., not enough demand for horse harness, and the impending arrival of the oil industry)

Act 1: A Monday afternoon in early spring.
Act 2: After dinner, the following Friday.
Act 3: The next day, late afternoon.

Characters (In order of appearance)

  • Rubin Flood
  • Cora Flood
  • Sonny Flood
  • Boy Offstage
  • Reenie Flood
  • Flirt Conroy
  • Morris Lacey
  • Lottie Lacey
  • Sammy Goldenbaum
  • Punky Givens
  • Chauffeur

Production History

Date Venue Company
Nov 29, 1979 Roundabout Stage II Roundabout Theatre Company
Dec 5, 1957 Music Box Theatre
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