It’s a harsh winter night out there on Christmas Eve in a suburban neighborhood somewhere in Europe. Family members are awaiting Claire, a relative visiting from the U.S. The ones sitting at the table include Chang, in a very elegant clothing, Liv, his free-spirited wife, little Damien, their four-year-old, Pop and Mom, the two 60-ish parents, and Woyzeck, their grown-up son. Sitting at the table-heads are “He”, a middle-aged man, and “She”, a young woman.

When Claire finally arrives half an hour late, she lights up the atmosphere with her presence. She recounts how cold the driving was despite the electric heater she managed to buy at a store that keeps open during the holiday. At this point “He” derisively suggests that Claire was deliberately sold a faulty heater and he even points out the shop owner’s Middle Eastern origins as an explanation (‘shrewd people, good with money’). Chang starts to grow tense.

Though Claire keeps steering the conversation back to the safe haven of family matters, it all suddenly goes off the rails when Claire finally asks Chang and Liv about what was up with them lately. Prompted in the presence of Pop, Chang gets embarrassed and grows defensive as he tries to first hide and then to explain away his protracted efforts to find a job. Soon enough his sense of shame gets the better of him pushing him into a state of despondence.

Exasperated by Chang’s despair as well as her own helplessness, Liv breaks out in a tantrum of bigoted overtones. Disgusted at her own words, she immediately expresses a profound regret. Dumbfounded too by what she has just uttered, the others are not responsive to Liv’s apology, they even divert their glances. After a silent standoff, she plunges into despondence.

Claire again veers the discussion away to lighter topics. A moment of respite.

A xenophobic rant from “He” gets Woyzeck engaged in back-and-forth with him. In the midst of it, Woyzeck grows emotional when he is reminded of the fact that he himself has been adopted by the family. “He” then goes on to assert how migrants from the Middle East will never accept ‘people like him’ (LGBT people), some of them even secretly wishing him to be dead for who he is. Woyzeck breaks into tears and joins Chang and Liv in despondence.

A brief interlude follows when they start with the meal.

When a rambunctious Damien gets picked on by “He” (‘what they like to do to unruly children’), it becomes Pop’s turn to stand up to him. “He” wins their tug-of-war with ease. First “He” asserts how the Europeans are getting ‘out-bred’ by the people coming in. What tepid objection Pop raises about the word ‘outbreed’ breaks down when “He” prompts him to imagine little Damien on the playground all alone with five of their children.

When Claire asks about the U-haul boxes she spots in the corner of the room, Mom proudly breaks it to her that Woyzeck is ‘going overseas’ for Medical School and on account of a steep tuition fee, they decided to move to a smaller house. This sparks an air of woeful nostalgia about the house they are yet to leave. As Mom’s enthusiasm starts to subside, “He” is quick to point out the mortgage they still have got to pay off. Mom slides into despondence.

“He” then takes a crack at Claire but his attempts prove ineffectual as she finds refuge in texting on her phone. However when “He” turns to little Damien to get started on him, “She” finally snaps. What follows is a searing monologue where “She” unleashes everything she has kept repressed until this point.

We suddenly loop back to a situation where Claire has just arrived, only this time “He” caringly asks “She” whether she is on better terms with the colleagues at her new job. Before “She” could have a chance to answer, Chang jauntily clinks his glass and rises for a toast. To everyone’s deepest joy, Chang announces the birth of their forthcoming child with Liv.

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