The action is set in Truvy's hair salon in Chinquapin, Louisiana, where all the ladies who are 'anybody' come to get their hair done. Helped by her eager new assistant, Annelle (who is not sure if she is married or not), the outspoken, wise-cracking Truvy dispenses shampoos and free advice to the town's rich curmudgeon, Ouiser ('I'm not crazy I've just been in a bad mood for forty years'); an eccentric millionaire, Miss Clairee, who has a raging sweet tooth; and the local social leader, M'lynn, whose daughter Shelby (the prettiest girl in town) is about to marry a 'good ole boy'.
Filled with hilarious rapartee and not a few acerbic but humorously revealing verbal collisions, the play moves toward tragedy when Shelby, a diabetic, risks pregnancy and forfeits her life. The sudden realisation of thier own mortality affects the others, but also draws on the underlying strength, and love, which give the play, and its characters the special quality to make them truly touching, funny and marvelously amiable company in good times and bad.
Eric Swan (aided by his uncle George and unbeknown to his wife, Linda) has pocketed thousands of pounds through fraudulently deceiving the department of social security. When Norman Bassett (Eric's lodger) opens the door to Mr Jenkins, the DSS inspector, deceptive mayhem follows - as do the undertaker, bereavement counsellor, psychiatrist, Norman's fiancee, a corpse, the ominous Ms Cowper and a rather rebellious washing machine. Meanwhile, a frantic Linda consults with Dr Chapman about the discovery of her husband's bra, corset and stockings (all part of Eric's swindling activities) and draws some rather comical conclusions.
It is the night of Charlie and Myra's tenth wedding anniversary and time for celebration, however, their first guests to arrive discover that Charlie has shot himself and Myra is nowhere in sight.
Though only a flesh wound, four couples are about to experience a severe attack of farce as they struggle to get 'the story' straight, and keep it that way! As the confusions and mis-communications mount, the evening spins off into classic farcial hilarity.