The play is a drama as well as a comedy, set in a single dining room where 18 scenes from different households overlap and intertwine. Presumably, each story is focused around a different family during different time periods who has in their possession the same dining room furniture set, manufactured in 1898. Most of the stories are about WASP families, but a few deal with other similar cultures or households in America. Some scenes are about the furniture itself, and the emotional attachment to it, while other scenes simply flesh out the culture of the kind of people who tend to own these kinds of dining room sets. Overall, it tells the story of the dying (and relatively short-lived) culture of upper-middle class Americans, and the transition into a much more efficient society with less emphasis on tradition and more emphasis on progress.