Improbable Fiction: Synopsis

Cast: 3 male / 4 female
Running time (approximate): 2 hours and 10 minutes - not including the interval.
Availability: Improbable Fiction is available for both professional and amateur production.
Acting edition: Published by Samuel French.

The action takes place in the hall of Arnold's family home on the outskirts of a small country town. The time is the present - more or less.


Arnold Hassock (Chairman, shop assistant, late 40s)
Jess Bales (Farmer, 40s)
Grace Sims (Housewife, 40s)
Vivvi Dickins (Journalist, 30s)
Clem Pepp (Council worker, 30s)
Brevis Winterton (Retired schoolteacher, 60s)
Ilsa Wolby (Shop assistant, about 18)
It is nearly Christmas and Arnold is holding a meeting of the Pendon Writers’ Circle, still recovering from their last meeting when a guest speaker drunkenly told them to actually “get the **** on with it”. All the members are frustrated writers: Jess, who is struggling with her historical romance; Grace, longing to write a children’s book for her long-since grown-up children but who has not progressed beyond pictures of Doblin the Goblin and Sid Squirrel; nerdy Clem with his conspiracy sci-fi stories and penchant for abusing the English language; Vivvi, whose detective fiction mirrors her desperate search for a good man; Brevis adapting The Pilgrim’s Progress into a musical. Only Arnold has published… instruction manuals.

Midway through the acrimonious meeting – the retired teacher Brevis being particularly spiteful of everyone’s efforts – young Ilsa enters the room; a carer for Arnold’s mother. She laboriously and in utter silence makes a cup of tea for everyone, obviously intimidated by the ‘intellectuals’ around her. They in return are fascinated by her and what she does, making a number of unfounded assumptions. The meeting draws to a close and Arnold urges everyone to actually write something. They leave and Arnold goes to search for Ilsa. There is a clap of thunder, the lights fail and Ilsa enters. Wearing a Victorian dress; followed by all the members of the writers’ circle, similarly attired. Ilsa screams loudly and a bemused Arnold can only reply: “Good gracious!”

Over the second act, a number of mysteries are interwoven all centred around Ilsa and taking place in a historical romance, a '30s detective story and a sci-fi conspiracy. As the genres switch, a stoic Arnold wanders through them trying to make sense of what is going on. He appears to have stepped into the imaginations of his writers.

The mysteries of the detective and historical stories are solved, leaving only the sci-fi story, in which it appears Arnold’s mother has been kidnapped by aliens. However, an unseen alien is captured in a suspiciously walnut-shaped containment device. As matters resolve, the pod slowly opens to reveal… Doblin the Goblin; a cheery tune strikes up, Sid Squirrel appears and it quickly becomes a song-and-dance number with everyone then leaving the house.

Alone, Arnold notes it was: “Nice to finish with a song” and sees Ilsa off before going up to see his mother saying it was a “quite quiet evening really. Nothing unusual….”

Article by Simon Murgatroyd. Copyright: Haydonning Ltd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.
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