The play takes the form of a litany, repeating the phrases “Tell her”, “Don’t tell her” to reflect an ostensible tension within Israel and the Jewish community over how to describe events in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict: “Tell her for miles and miles all round they have lands of their own/Tell her again this is our promised land/Don’t tell her they said it was a land without people/Don’t tell her I wouldn’t have come if I’d known/Tell her maybe we can share/Don’t tell her that.” Churchill has been particularly criticized for a monologue within the play purportedly representing a hardline Israeli view: “tell her I look at one of their children covered in blood and what do I feel? tell her all I feel is happy it’s not her/Don’t tell her that.”
The play is based around the increasingly urgent repetition of “Tell her,” and “Don’t tell her”. Occasionally breaking into this pattern is the injunction “don’t frighten her”, three significant words that are also the last in the play.
These motifs can be seen in the opening lines of the play:
Tell her it’s a game
Tell her it’s serious
But don’t frighten her
Don’t tell her they’ll kill her
Although Churchill indicates that the scenes concern different children, thus speakers change between them, she leaves it for each production to decide how many adults take part and how the lines are shared between them. The Guardian, for example, has produced a version with Jennie Stoller that is a simple monologue throughout.
The first two scenes concern the Holocaust, featuring one family that are hiding from Nazis and another wondering how to tell their child of the many family members who have been killed. Later scenes are about episodes in the development of the Israeli–Arab conflict: one family is migrating to Jerusalem, another wondering what to tell their daughter about Palestinian Arabs, the next discusses an Israeli victory, and the next are speaking as the Israeli West Bank barrier is being built and when a Palestinian child has been shot. The culminating scene is during the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict