Mrs. Lemarchand (Ellen Karas) is a former "left-wing militant" turned bourgeois gentlewoman who's looking for her next housekeeper. As the play begins, she asks her handyman Frank (Michael Earle) if his wife Hilda will work for her, simply because she's never had a servant with such a beguiling name. She croons the word as a lover would and makes little effort to disguise her sexual longing for the Hilda of her imagination. The folksy Frank needs money so badly that he basically pimps out his wife, whom he loves, without getting her consent. Tragicomic doings ensue.
Hilda never actually appears onstage. She is an "unknowable other" (to borrow a phrase from such French thinkers as Rimbaud, Sartre, and Levinas) whom we can never truly understand but whose presence is strongly felt. This concept is rife with dramatic possibilities, as the audience is forced to imagine Hilda's class, ethnicity, motivations, and so on. We end up projecting qualities onto her based on the other characters that we see onstage, and we learn about ourselves through the judgments that we make. But for the concept to fully work, the other characters have to be credible, which is not the case here. Frank agrees to an obviously shady offer and then is surprised by the consequences. Later, Lemarchand finds a way to commit "legalized" kidnapping and slavery, in much the same way that Shylock demands a pound of flesh, by pure contrivance of the playwright. Eventually, the proceedings go over the top in a way that would make even John Waters cry "Enough!"