Summary

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1380

Scene 1 The play opens on Easter Sunday in Knightsbridge, England. The year is 1962. In this opening scene Susan Traherne gives her house to her friend of fifteen years, Alice Park. Alice intends to use the house as a home for unmarried mothers. Susan's husband, Raymond Brock, lies on...

(The entire section contains 1380 words.)

See This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this study guide. You'll also get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Scene 1
The play opens on Easter Sunday in Knightsbridge, England. The year is 1962. In this opening scene Susan Traherne gives her house to her friend of fifteen years, Alice Park. Alice intends to use the house as a home for unmarried mothers. Susan's husband, Raymond Brock, lies on the floor naked, bloodied (though unharmed), and full of Scotch and the drug Nembutal; he does not move throughout the scene. Susan leaves her husband at the end of the scene. She does not, however, take any of his possessions.

Scene 2
Scene 2 flashes back to the year 1943. The location is occupied France, where Susan works for the English government as part of the resistance efforts against Germany in World War II. In this scene, Susan awaits a shipment of explosives and guns to be parachuted down to her. Hearing a plane and thinking the drop is early, Susan flashes a beam of light only to find another English agent, Lazar, who is bailing out of his failing plane. Susan helps him parachute to safety. The two discuss the irony that the more successful they are at diverting the Germans from their military goals, the longer the war seems to continue. While they wait, the shipment drop arrives and it is taken by a Frenchman. Susan and Lazar argue with the man as to whom the supplies belong. Eventually, and by gun point, Susan and Lazar retrieve the shipment of arms from the Frenchman. Susan breaks down and confesses that she is not an agent, only a courier, and that she is afraid to die.

Scene 3
Scene 3 takes place in Brussels in June, 1947. After traveling with Susan in Europe, Mr. Tony Radley, a friend who served in the war with Susan as a wireless operator, drops dead in their hotel lobby. Susan approaches the British Embassy for assistance, pretending to be Tony's wife. After Sir Leonard Darwin, the British Ambassador, leaves the room, Susan asks Raymond Brock, then the Third Secretary, to call Pony's wife to explain how he died. Susan and Raymond discuss whether Raymond should tell the widow that Tony was traveling with Susan. Susan discloses that her relationship with Tony was not unphysical, but she claims nonetheless that it was innocent. Brock decides to lie to Tony's wife. Darwin returns and he and Susan discuss what the Ambassador perceives to be the great rebuilding of Europe in the postwar period.

Scene 4
Scene 4 is set in Pimlico (a suburb of London) in September, 1947. In a conversation with Alice, Susan repeatedly states how much she needs change and that she would like to move on. Susan also discusses her dissatisfaction with her job and her boss, who she believes is making sexual overtures towards her. Susan makes Raymond, now her lover, an omelet while Alice tells him about a new book she is writing. Susan also tells Alice that Brock thinks that Sir Leonard Darwin, his boss, is "a joke." Towards the end of the scene Susan recalls the war and her involvement with Lazar. She says she often wonders where he is. Susan tells Brock that she would like to try a winter apart. He leaves for Brussels, where he is now posted, without responding to her suggestion. Instead, he says goodbye and gives her a kiss.

Scene 5
(his scene lakes place in the London suburb of Temple in May, 1951. Susan meets Mick, a friend of Alice's from the East End and asks him to father her child. She says she would prefer to do it alone but that having someone she barely knows participate is her second choice. Mick agrees to Susan's plan.

Scene 6
The action returns to Pimlico in December, 1952. Susan complains about her job in advertising and the dishonesty and stupidity that the position requires. Alice paints a nude of her friend Louise from Liverpool for the New Year's Arts Ball. Mick, shows up and he and Susan have a heated discussion about their inability to conceive a child after a year and a half of trying. Susan takes out her gun and shoots it just above Mick's head.

Scene 7
It is October, 1956, in Knightsbridge. Susan and Brock have a dinner party. Their guests include the Third Secretary to the Burmese embassy, M. Aung; his wife, Madame Aung; Alice; and Brock's superior, Sir Leonard Darwin. Susan offends Darwin by making a scene about the English involvement in the Suez Canal fiasco (a conflict that arose over the control of the vital shipping passage. England eventually lost its claim on the canal). M. Aung spends most of his time kissing up to Darwin.

Alone, Brock and Darwin discuss Susan's previous bouts with mental illness. Darwin discloses that he believes that the Israeli/Egyptian war was fabricated so that the English would have an excuse for seizing the canal. Susan has what seems to be a breakdown and the guests leave. At the end of the scene Brock announces that Darwin will resign, and Susan celebrates that change is on the horizon.

Scene 8
Set in Knightsbridge in July, 1961, Scene 8 introduces Alice's student Dorcas Frey. Susan, Brock, Alice, and Dorcas have just come from Darwin's funeral. Susan explains that she and Brock have been posted in Iran. She also notes that not many people attended Darwin's funeral because he publicly revealed his negative thoughts about the Suez Canal incident. Dorcas asks to borrow money from Susan for an abortion. Alice tells Brock that Dorcas needs the money for a hand operation. Susan says that she would like to remain in England; she and Brock do not return to Iran.

Scene 9
The scene shifts to Whitehall, England, in January, 1962. In the first part of this scene, an unnamed BBC (British Broadcasting Company) radio reporter interviews Susan about her wartime efforts as one of the few female intelligence agents—and, at seventeen, one of the youngest to serve.

Later, Susan talks with Sir Andrew Charleson, the Chief Clerk in charge of personnel decisions, about her husband's career. She requests that he be given a more respectable post. Charleson comments
that Brock's performance has always been quite mediocre. Susan tells Charleson that she will shoot herself m six days unless Charleson promotes Brock. She leaves after Charleson and Begley, another diplomat, try to detain her.

Scene 10
It is Easter, 1962, in Knightsbridge. This scene precedes the first scene in the play in which Alice returns to find Brock drunk, drugged, naked, and bloodied. Brock, who no longer works for the Foreign Service, tells Alice that he has told Susan that morning that they ought to sell the house. Brock now works in insurance. Susan is in a frenzy collecting all of the objects around the house. She suggests that Alice use the house to help her work with unmarried mothers. Brock asks Alice to get the Nembutal to sedate Susan and threatens to call the doctor to have Susan admitted to a mental hospital. Susan disregards his threat and suggests that Alice leave for a while so that she and Brock can discuss their problems.

Scene 11
Scene 11 takes place in Blackpool, England, in June of 1962. Susan has had sex with Lazar, with whom she was recently reunited. In bed, Lazar tells Susan that he found her because he heard her on the radio interview. Susan confides that she has not always been well; Lazar confesses that he has sold out to suburbia, marrying and taking a job in a corporate bureaucracy. Susan rolls a cigarette with marijuana and falls to the bed, waking to ask Lazar his real name as he leaves.' 'Lazar,'' he says, stating his codename. He departs.

Scene 12
The final scene takes place in France. It is August, 1944, and the Resistance has succeeded in liberating the occupied portions of France. Susan appears on a beautiful hillside talking with a Frenchman about the splendor of the day; she is radiant and happy, obviously joyous that her contributions aided in the Resistance's success. She is about to join the village party. The Frenchman complainas about his life while Susan, somewhat oblivious to his comments, expresses optimism about the English improving the world. She agrees to have soup with the Frenchman and his wife. Looking out across the lush countryside, Susan pauses, stating: "There will be days and days and days like this."

Illustration of PDF document

Download Plenty Study Guide

Subscribe Now
Next

Themes