Set on the campus of a small New England university, the play introduces George and Martha, one of the most unhappily married couples ever depicted on stage, as the pair returns home from a party at her father's house. Despite the late hour, they are expecting post-party guests, Nick, a new, young faculty member, and his wife Honey. Soon Nick and Honey become pawns in a nasty chess game, as George and Martha's efforts to humiliate each other become increasingly shrill and degrading. By the third act, Nick and Honey have reluctantly joined in the fray, revealing some embarrassing secrets of their own. As dawn breaks, all four are left reeling - along with members of the audience.