The play takes place in "The Wings" charity home for retired actresses. The Time is the Present. In the first Act the residents of the home discuss a forthcoming charity event for the home, at which a younger generation of stars will perform to raise funds. They are hoping that the funds will allow the home to build a solarium. The other residents break it to May Davenport that her old adversary Lotta Bainbridge will shortly come to live at The Wings. May, furious, vows never to speak to Lotta and retreats to her room. Lotta arrives with her maid Dora. They part, sadly, and Lotta is left alone. A group of the residents returns from watching the dress rehearsal for the fund-raising show. They do not think the new generation of performers are up to the standards of their own heyday. Lotta attempts to overcome May's hostility but is rebuffed.
Perry, the secretary to the charity that runs The Wings, has invited Zelda, a journalist friend, to visit the home. Miss Archie, the superintendent of The Wings, warns him that this will lead to trouble, but he is prepared to risk it for the valuable publicity he expects to attract for the home. The first resident that Zelda encounters is Sarita, whose wits are wandering and who thinks she is still a leading actress. Other residents, unaware that Zelda is from the press, make indiscreetly rude remarks about the charity committee that runs the home. Lotta recognises Zelda and tries to get her to promise not to write about The Wings. Sarita accidentally sets fire to her room. Disaster is averted by prompt action by the other residents. In the crisis, May gives a slight hint of rapprochement with Lotta. They slowly become friendly and drink a toast to each other.
Zelda has written about the home in her newspaper. Lotta is amused, and May is annoyed, by the story, "Old foes still feuding in the twilight of their lives." Perry comes in. He was sacked for introducing a journalist to The Wings, but he has been reinstated because May has privately prevailed on the committee to excuse him. Sarita, still in a state of serene oblivion to reality, is taken away to be cared for in a mental hospital.
Zelda turns up with a large cheque from the proprietor of her paper, to be donated to The Wings. She also presents a case of vintage champagne for the residents. During the ensuing celebrations, Deidre, one of the residents, drops dead. May and Lotta engage in friendly banter. A visitor, Lotta's son, arrives. His father was the cause of May’s and Lotta’s falling out decades before. He tries to persuade Lotta to leave The Wings and come to live with him and his wife and children in Canada, but she refuses. The latest new resident is introduced; she was once a music-hall star, and the other residents all welcome her by singing her most famous song.
Financial Times - September 1960:
"There is a lot of old shop talked an a lot of old songs sung, and it gets more nauseating as the evening wears on."
Manchester Guardian - September 1960:
"Probably the play will serve as a broad target for scorn in some quarters, and may justifiably be called shameless in its exploitation of the sentimentalities inherent in a tale of old actresses backbiting and sighing in a home for the aged of the profession. But as long as the mood is one of outraged grandeur, mild dottiness, theatrical slamder, and the game of upstaging the last speaker, Mr. Coward's touch remains what it has always been: and sometimes touches the level of the inspired cattiness found in such places as the 'Red Peppers'."