Major English XI Content
Friday Morning | Major English – XI
– Val Gielgud
This play is about some people who are on a plane from London to Paris. Halfway through the journey the place’s engines stop. The different people react in different ways to the realization that the plane will probably crash.
The first part of the play introduces the different characters. The most important of these are Basil and Shirley, a young couple planning to fly to Paris to get married. The other characters include a travelling salesman who drinks a lot of alcohol (McLaurin), two American (Hannah and Janet Seward), a rich and important businessman (Sir Edward Harwood) and an older married couple (Mr. and Mrs. Briars. Basil, Shirley, Hannah and Mr. and Mrs. Briars are flying in a plane for the first time and make them nervous. McLaurin and Harwood regularly fly.
Sir Edward Harwood borrows a newspaper from Basil, and they arrange to have lunch together when they get to Paris. The plane takes of Shirley is nervous. Basil is also nervous. He holds Shirley’s hand very tightly, but they also have fun looking at how small things on the ground look from the plane. One of the engines stops. Basil thinks up reasons why this does not mean anything is wrong, but the plane continues to lower than it should.
A Steward says they have to return to London and the engines completely stop working.
The next section of the play contains long speeches from all the characters. They are talking to themselves about what they are thinking.
Basil is drinking of ways he can save Shirley horn dying. Harwood is hopeful. He thinks the pilot may be able to save them, but he hopes no-one will panic. He says how much he liked Basil and Shirley.
Mr. Chapman is worried about his wife, Mrs. Chapman. He is also worried that his death will cause problems for his nephew. He does not seem to worried about his own death.
Mrs. Chapman is worried that Shirley will scream and that it will be embarrassing.
McLaurin wishes he had more alcohol to drink. He thinks about his wife. Hannah is worried she will be injured badly. She would prefer to die.
Janet is worried that the shock of the crash will kill the sister (Hannah’s mother. She is not on the plane.
Shirley is very frightened and wants to scream-but she doesn’t.
The next section is a conversation between a newspaper editor (Marriott) and a young journalist (Miss James). The editor is told a plane has crashed but no one was killed. He is disappointed by this and even more disappointed when he hears there were no famous people on board. The journalist wants to know if the story will be the top story on the front page, but the editor says news about the news is much more important.
Shirley and Basil go to France by train and ferry boat. They were two men talking about the crash, but one of them is more interested taking about football. The first man says he thinks it would be fun to be in a plane crash if you weren’t killed.
This play was written to be performed on the radio. In the text the words in italics are directions to the actors and the radio technicians.