Ben and Jenny are older than they can remember. In fact they don’t remember much at all about their lives. Ben doesn’t remember having any children. Jenny doesn’t remember him fighting in the War. On a beautiful Saturday morning Jenny is outraged when she sees a perfectly beautiful house in the neighborhood being torn down right in front of her eyes. Ben watches in fascination. He has a secret. All their money is gone. When the contractor wanders over, he seems to fall in love with their house. He gives them his card in case they ever want to sell. As they consider the state of the house, Ben and Jenny hear voices and sounds coming from within it. When they listen closely they are struck by very powerful memories from their past, shocking memories that speak of troubling secrets they have forgotten.
The next morning Jenny awakens to find a huge gaping hole where the front door was. Ben wanders home from the street. He has been out all night drinking. He has sold the house to be torn down and he didn’t want to be home when the destruction began. Jenny is angry and refuses to leave. As they examine the wreckage of the front door they discover pieces of their past. An autographed baseball that belonged to their son. A beautiful spangled hippie dress that belonged to their daughter. Jenny finds a set of combs she bought from a traveling salesman and secretly recalls the affair she had with him. Ben recalls a beautiful young woman he slept with when he was off building highways. Jenny refuses to leave the house until she can gather up all her memories. Ben says he will go without her.
The next morning Ben is ready to go, but there is a man at the door in a nondescript baseball uniform. It is his son Davey, an over the hill baseball player. Exhausted physically and mentally, he wants to come home. Then Emily appears, the wild daughter who strikes a spark with her mother the moment she appears. Jenny chases her off but goes after her.
Ben and David warily say hello and begin to get to know one another again. They have a lot of disappointments to sort through. Jenny and Emily return late at night drunk and carousing. They too have begun some kind of healing process. But the contractor returns in the night. The next day the roof and the front porch are gone. The innards of the house are exposed. Conversations run deeper. The family is drawing closer together. Old secrets are revealed. Old conflicts between Ben and Jenny find their resolution. But the contractor will not be denied. It is time to move out before the final destruction.
In the end even the yard is gone and there’s nothing left except the subfloor and the foundation floating in the void. But Ben and Jenny have discovered the story of their life in the ruins of the house. Now they’ve got to let go of it all, even Davey and Emily, who are just as much a mess as they always were. Ben and Jenny stand on the edge of the void with a red wagon containing their remaining possessions as they ponder their next step.
Teardown is a play about making sense of life amid the difficulties
of old age and in the face of death.