Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1380
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 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 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 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.
(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.
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...
(The entire section contains 1380 words.)
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