Fliss's real father has been dead, presumed missing, since she was two years old. Now she believes she has found him, living rough on the streets of London. She takes him in, shaves and bathes him, and puts in place of his total amnesia the identity she hopes he will live up to.
Her half-sister, Claire, doesn't believe her, but has enough trouble of her own, juggling an ageing boyfriend Dickie and the younger, leaner Sid. She doesn't know what she sees in both of them – but see it in both of them she must.
Claire and Fliss may be sisters, but are separated not just by paternity, but by shady goings-on in the childhood home, a separation they seem pathologically driven to compound with every action they take and choice they make.
Neilson's Year of the Family was first performed in 1994, the European Year of the Family, at the Finborough Theatre, London.