Plot: Al, Louise, Max and Sy - four literary types who work in the theater business - are discussing what they believe to be the real life truths underlying their work, Max who writes primarily tragic plays, and Sy who writes primarily comic plays. Al proceeds to tell them a real story of a troubled woman named Melinda Robicheaux showing up unexpectedly at a door in the middle of an important business dinner party. Melinda long ago left her physician husband to embark on a relationship with who she initially believed to be the man of her dreams, which ended up not being the case. Melinda tries to put her life back together with the help of select people at the dinner party, some who have their own ulterior motives. Melinda's appearance also opens up the cracks existing in the marriage of one of the couples at the dinner party, while it leads to the dissolution of a friendship that has existed since college. With this basic outline of a story, Max and Sy try to make their point of life being truly a tragedy or comedy on spinning Melinda's story with their own mindset.
Alternative Plot: While dining out with friends, Sy (Wallace Shawn) suggests the difficulty of separating comedy from tragedy. To illustrate his point, he tells his guests two parallel stories about Melinda (Radha Mitchell) ; both versions have the same basic elements, but one take on her state of affairs leans toward levity, while the other is full of anguish. Each story involves Melinda coping with a recent divorce through substance abuse while beginning a romantic relationship with a close friend's husband.