Ashley loves Ruby and is only slightly concerned that she might ‘show him up’. He knows her outspokenness is mainly for effect but even so he doesn’t want to risk it. Throughout the play he becomes increasingly ground down by his family’s situation, and their lack of money and more and more aware of what others think of ‘benefit scroungers’ and increasingly his anger mounts.
Ruby has worked hard for her family all her life, she has worked just as hard at trying to make the best of things, and not let others down by giving in to feeling miserable. She has a big heart and likes to make people laugh. Sometimes because she’s so outspoken this can backfire. She really wants Ashley to have a better life and would probably do anything for him.
Susanna is middle class, effortlessly elegant and well groomed despite having to do her hair and make up maybe in the car or half way down the stairs. She means well and she has a social conscience but sometimes can’t see what’s under her nose. She loves Xavier and is concerned that she doesn’t spend enough time with him but her work as a barrister puts increasing demands on her time.
Xavier is defensive and unhappy about his weight but covers it with arrogant bluster. He lives in another world to Ruby and has no idea how different their lives are until he visits her in her daughter in law’s flat. He goes to a fee-paying school but has gone to great lengths to bunk off games because he can’t bear the teasing and snide jibes of his classmates. He is lonely.