The Dark at the Top of the Stairs

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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 of the same name in 1960.


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.


L. to R.: Timmy Everett, Eileen Heckart & Frank Overton in a scene from the stage production The Dark at the Top of the Stairs

Directed by Elia Kazan, the play opened December 5, 1957, at New York's Music Box Theatre and ran for a total of 468 performances, closing on January 17, 1959. The drama was reworked by Inge from his earlier play, Farther Off from Heaven, first staged in 1947 at Margo Jones' Theatre '47 in Dallas, Texas.

Opening night cast:

  • Eileen Heckart as Lottie Lacey
  • Pat Hingle as Rubin Flood
  • Teresa Wright as Cora Flood
  • Timmy Everett as Sammy Goldenbaum
  • Frank Overton as Morris Lacey
  • Anthony Ray as Chauffeur
  • Evans Evans as Flirt Conroy
  • Carl Reindel as Punky Givens
  • Judith Robinson as Reenie Flood
  • Charles Saari as Sonny Flood
  • Jonathan Shawn as Boy Offstage[1]

It was nominated for five Tony Awards: Best Play, Best Featured Actor (Pat Hingle), Best Featured Actress (Eileen Heckart), Best Scenic Design (Ben Edwards), Best Director (Elia Kazan). Timmy Everett won a Theatre World Award. It was adapted into a film by the same name in 1960, directed by Delbert Mann, and starring Dorothy McGuire and Robert Preston.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ William Inge. "The Dark at the Top of the Stairs". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved July 22, 2009.