Scene 1. Pam and Len come into a living room in Pam's home and he takes his shoes off. They introduce themselves to one another. It becomes clear that they are meeting for a sexual encounter, as Len urges Pam to take her shoes off and compliments her "fair ol' arse." When Pam sits on the couch, Len grabs her and takes off her shoes.
Suddenly, Harry comes in and immediately walks back out. Len asks Pam who Harry is and Pam tells him it's her father, and that he's late for work. Len asks Pam if she has cigarettes and she directs him to her bag. Pam asks Len if he wants tea, but he tells her he'll have it after they have sex. Len becomes paranoid that he hears heavy breathing outside the door. "'Ow many blokes yer 'ad this week?" Len asks Pam, who points out that it's only Monday. Len jokes that he's had over 60 girls and they laugh.
Len tells a joke: "Why did the woman with three tits shoot 'erself?...She only 'ad two nipples." Pam replies with her own joke: "What did the midwife say to the nun?" and then whispers the answer in his ear. Len begins eating sweets from Pam's bag, and begins feeding her some. Suddenly, they are interrupted by a brief appearance by Harry, who pops his head in and out. When he leaves, Pam and Len yell after him, offering him sweets and intimating that he is trying to spy on them. When he leaves for work, they begin to have sex.
Scene 2. Pam and Len are in a row boat. Len asks Pam if she's hungry and offers her chocolate, but she doesn't want it. Len tells her he hasn't paid his rent, and Pam says her mother hasn't mentioned it. He then asks Pam if her mother knows about their sexual relationship, but she says her mother doesn't care so long as he pays his rent. Pam tells him she's going to knit him a jumper, saying she'd like to make one red or blue, and he tells her, "Anythin' bright." Suddenly, she spots a pimple on his neck and pops it.
As they talk, Pam mentions that her parents had a son in the war who died after a bomb went off in a park, and that they do not talk anymore. Fred, the man in charge of the boats, pulls them into shore, and flirts with Pam, who seems receptive to his attention.
Scene 3. In the park, Pete, Barry, Mike, and Colin are gathered. Pete is wearing a brown, ill-fitting suit and suede shoes, while the other men are in shirts and jeans. Pete is dressed up because he is going to the funeral of a boy he killed with his van. He tells the men that he did it intentionally and brags about getting away with murder. The men try and outdo each other with stories of the horrible things they have gotten away with, laughing uproariously and liberally making lewd jokes and using racial slurs.
Len comes in and Colin recognizes him from school. They greet one another and Len tells the men he's waiting for someone. Soon enough, Mary, Pam's mother, comes in and gives Len some grocery bags, which he carries.
The play starts with a simple scenario: two strangers beginning a sexual relationship. The audience does not know anything about the two people, but they have not missed much, since this is Pam and Len's first meeting. They stumble awkwardly through the encounter, each failing to create any kind of actual intimacy between them, to comic effect. Complicating matters further is the presence of Harry, Pam's father, who accidentally walks in on them early on.
The awkwardness of the scenario is helped by the humorous attitude each of the 20-somethings take. When Len asks Pam how many men she's slept with that week, she jokes that it's only Monday. When she asks him the same question, he quickly says, "Can't count over sixty," and they both laugh. In spite of the fumbling and the anxiety surrounding this sexual encounter, both of the characters maintain a jokey self-awareness and an ability to connect through humor.
The play stages a rather explicit Freudian scenario in the first scene. Two young people, experimenting with their sexualities, are continually interrupted by a nosy father, who says nothing. Any seduction that Pam and Len might otherwise pursue is curbed by the presence of a paternal figure looming over the proceedings. Thus, the play stages a familial involvement in an erotic encounter, and examines the ways that different relational spheres overlap and confuse one another.
If Scene 1 is a charming scene that depicts the coming together of two young people, Scene 2 follows the beginning of the dissolution of their love. In this scene, as they paddle a rowboat around a lake, Len wants to make plans for the future, but Pam seems to be losing interest in him. Making matters more complicated, as they land the boat on the shore, Pam enters into a slight flirtation with the man in charge of the boats, Fred.
The lightheartedness of the first scene is quickly undone by the domestic darkness that slowly creeps into the play. First, we see that Len and Pam's relationship is losing its luster when they go on a lifeless rowing trip and Pam tells Len that her parents don't talk anymore, perhaps on account of the fact that they lost a son in the war. Then, we see Pete and the other men in the park. Pete has recently killed a boy with his van, and rather than feeling contrite, brags about it as if murder is a great feat. His friends jump in and join him in his revelry, talking about their own violent pasts, and speaking disrespectfully about women and non-white people. The amusing innocence of the first scene drifts away as we see the bleaker and more desperate London backdrop against which Len and Pam first fell in love.