Arrivals & Departures: Synopsis

Cast: 7m / 4f (plus two f children)
Running time (approximate): 2 hours and 10 minutes (not including interval)
Availability: Arrivals & Departures is available for both professional and amateur production.
Acting Edition: Arrivals & Departures is expected to be published during 2017.

During the course of the play, we experience the key moments of Barry's and Ez's lives through their memories. Further details of the memory scenes and their timelines can be found at Ez's Timeline & Barry's Timeline.

Characters

Ez (Esmé) Swain (A soldier, 23)
Barry (A traffic warden, 50s)
Captain Quentin Sexton (O/C SSDO, late 40s)
Shane Hughes (SSDO)
Caz Walters (SSDO)
Don Simkins (SSDO)
Ro Merrivale (SSDO)
David Scullion (SSDO)
Rita Gilroy (SSDO)
Greta Teasdale (SSDO)
Tommy Wisby (SSDO)
The Suspect
Cerastes
Nadine Swain (Ez's mother, 27 - 37)
Esmé Swain (10 - 12)
Esmé Swain (15 - 28)
Freddie Swain (Her father, 28)
Sherwin Cooper (Nadine's boyfriend, 32 - 35)
Rob Stagmore (Esmé's boyfriend, 23 - 24)
Charles Stagmore (Rob's father, 60s)
Hilary Stagmore (Rob's mother, 60s)
An Army Chaplin
Young Barry (27 - 43)
Debs (Debra) (nee Fox) (His wife, 20 - 35)
Young Daisy (His daughter, 7)
Daisy Hawkins (14)
Daisy Hawkins (26)
Jess Fox (His father-in-law, 55)
Pauline Fox (His mother-in-law, 50 - 65)
Clive Ward (His childhood friend, 30)
Lily Gill (Fox's accountant, 20 - 41)
Norman Scullion (An auditor, 50s)

Note: Arrivals & Departures was originally written for an adult cast of 11 actors plus two non-speaking girls. It can be performed with a larger cast and less doubling of roles.
Act 1
At a London main line rail terminus an elaborate trap is being deployed in an attempt to capture a dangerous and elusive terrorist, codenamed Cerastes. Major Quentin Sexton and his hand-picked SSDO (Strategic Simulated Distractional Operations) Unit are poised, if not giving the impression of being terribly able.

They are being assisted by Barry Hawkins, a civilian witness and constantly chirpy traffic warden in his 50s from Harrogate; his protection - much to Quentin's disapproval - is an apparently disgraced and very defensive 23 year old soldier Private Esmé (Ez) Swain, currently awaiting a court martial following an assault on a fellow soldier. In their own ways, Barry's happiness and Ez's defensiveness are their shields against anyone prying too deeply.

As they wait for the train carrying Cerastes to arrive, Barry and Ez are told to blend in as part of the clandestine action and they indulge in small talk, but reveal little about themselves with Barry largely dedicated to trying to coax a smile from Ez. They learn very little about each other, but as Barry talks, Ez relives her story through memories in a series of vignettes seen only by her.

Ez's memories begin as a happy young girl with her mother and father, also a serving soldier who is later revealed to have been killed in action leading Ez to have an increasingly difficult relationship with her mother, who are both badly affected by the death in different ways. At 18, Ez joins the army where three years later she meets Rob, a fellow trainee officer with whom she begins a relationship; Ez's intimacy issues increasingly anger Rob, who Ez also feels is pressuring her into moving too fast with the relationship. She then recalls meeting Rob's parents in the aftermath of a drunken party where Ez alleges Rob raped her - Rob's father's attempt to dissuade her from proceeding with the case against his son leading Ez to reveal she is pregnant from the rape and she does not know whether she will keep the child.

The train arrives and the shambolic SSDO unit capture someone who Quentin is confident is Cerastes, but who Barry doesn't recognise. Barry and Ez prepare to say goodbye with Ez admitting Barry's happy attitude has gone a little way to restoring her faith in people as Quentin returns to admit they have got the wrong man.

Act 2
The plot returns to the moment when Barry arrives at the railway station to meet Quentin and Ez for the first time. The play repeats itself but this time we see the action from Barry's perspective and relive his private memories.

Barry recollections begin as a 27 year old having just married Debra, where her father Jess intimates that he'd like Barry to take over the family business when he retires. Several years later, Barry and Debs have had a child Daisy (born several years before Ez), who Barry dotes on. In the aftermath of Jess suffering a stroke, Barry is given charge of the family business. He quickly strikes up a friendship with the company secretary Lily and later discovers the business accounts have been falsified and thousands of pounds have been expertly siphoned off. Despite being sworn to secrecy, Barry tells Lily what has happened, who warns him his wife may be having an affair. Barry's then recalls meeting the now 26 year old Daisy. It is revealed Debs left Barry for another man and that Lily was responsible for robbing the company and has never been caught with Barry implicated as a result, although he is later found innocent. Daisy reveals she is getting married and that - with all that has happened - she doesn't want Barry or Debs to come. She sadly leaves a devastated Barry.

The train arrives and the shambolic SSDO unit capture someone who Quentin is confident is Cerastes, but who Barry doesn't recognise. Barry and Ez prepare to say goodbye with Ez admitting Barry's happy attitude has gone a little way to restoring her faith in people as Quentin returns to admit they have got the wrong man.

As Barry prepares to leave, he spots Cerastes dressed as a train guard and goes to confront him. Following a brief confrontation, Cerastes stabs Barry before walking casually away. Ez, who too late has realised what is happening, pulls a service revolver from her bag and shoots the suspect. As Ez tries to help Barry, Quentin confirms Cerastes is dead and that he intends to blame Ez for it all. As Barry lays dying in Ez's arms, he hallucinates she is Daisy and asks her to promise to look after Debs. He tells Daisy he loves her and Ez responds in kind before beginning to cry.

As Barry's body is taken away by paramedics, Ez and Daisy as children appear, coming together and holding hands before separating and returning to memory.

Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd. Please do no reproduce without permission.

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