Charles Hythloday doesn't ask much from life. All he wants is to be left in peace to watch the lunchtime movie on TV and slowly drink his way through his inheritance, safely within the walls of Amaurot, his ancestral home just south of Dublin.
Life, however, has other ideas. First there's Mrs P, the help, who seems to be having some sort of mental episode. Then there's his younger sister, Bel, struggling actress and hopeless romantic, who keeps bringing home the most unsuitable men.
When van-driving lowlife Frank arrives on the scene, and the furniture simultaneously begins to go missing, Charles is forced to take action. To save the house from Frank, and Bel from herself, he ventures into the hated real world - a world of cruelty, deceit, greyhound racing and community theatre, where people have to work for a living and nothing, not even death, is what it seems . . .