Surprises: Synopsis

Cast: 3 male / 3 female (see note below).
Running time (approximate): 2 hours and 10 minutes (not including two intervals).
Availability: Surprises is available for both professional and amateur production.
Acting edition: Published by Faber.


Grace (16 & 66)
Franklin (70 & 120, Her father, a retired executive)
Gorman (30s, A time-travel tour guide)
Titus (60s, A time tourist)
Inez (50s, A time tourist)
Zandy (50s, Her friend)
Lorraine (60 & 110, A lawyer)
Sylvia (30 & 80, Her secretary)
Conrad (40, Her husband)
Jan Sixty (A security / maintenance android)
'Seraphina' (Sylvia's avatar)
'Fabiano' (Titus's avatar)
'Bellina' (A virtual barmaid)

The voice Of Tim (Titus aged 18 - voiced by Titus actor)
The voice Of Fizz (Tim's best friend, a genius, 18 - prerecorded voice)
Author's note: Many of the characters in these plays are non-human, either android or virtual holographic creations. Moreover, several of the human characters are of considerably advanced years. However, owing to continued advances in cosmetic and geriatric surgery, they are all, in appearance, remarkably well-preserved for their age.

Editor's note: Written originally for a cast of six, Surprises features 13 characters (and two off-stage voices) with actors doubling up roles.

Surprises consists of three intertwined romances set in a near future where medical advances have enhanced longevity. When it’s possible to live to 200 years old, what effect will this have on love?

Act One: The Surprise Husband
The near future: Grace is arguing with her father Franklin about her boyfriend, Tim. An exasperated Franklin makes a clandestine telephone call and leaves.
A man mysteriously appears, pertaining to be Tim (now Titus) from the future. Fifty years earlier - on this day - he apparently agreed to stop seeing Grace in return for investment in a time travel company he now owns. Despite his incredible success and wealth, he is regretful of leaving her and has returned to take her back to live with him in his future. She refuses and rushes away to stop her Tim signing the contract. Titus leaves only for a visibly different, more disheveled Titus to appear from the future with a warning for Grace. Unable to deliver it, he leaves in disappointment.

Act Two: The Surprise Birthday
Lorraine, a lawyer, takes Franklin’s call from Act 1 and arranges a meeting with Tim. Later, after the unseen meeting and with Franklin now present, she informs him Tim turned down the investment offer due to the condition about never seeing Grace again.
During this we meet Sylvia, Lorraine’s PA who apparently dates men in exotic careers, and the security android Jan Sixty, who is intent on giving Lorraine a present for her 60th birthday. Following an upgrade - which also allows occasional ‘harmless falsehoods’ at the risk of system degradation - he has fallen in love with her. Emboldened by Sylvia’s views on Lorraine’s failing marriage and advice from Franklin, he professes love to an over-wrought Lorraine, who finds solace in the cuddle of an android.

Act Three: Surprises
Fifty years on: Grace’s intervention has altered the future, Franklin owns the time travel firm and Titus is just an employee having married Grace. They are estranged as she has never come to terms with knowing what the future holds, believing it should have been a surprise. Titus has also taken up virtual dating in which avatars, that bear little resemblance to their operators, meet in virtual bars. Reluctantly, Titus and Grace agree to divorce.
Sylvia, single at 80, still works at the law firm and is surprised to see Jan Sixty looking for advice about his marriage to Lorraine. He is increasingly deteriorating due to constantly ‘lying’ to ensure she is always right. His love for her is actually killing him, but he will not tell Lorraine this.
Sylvia has also been ‘virtual dating’ Titus through their avatars and, desperate to make a real connection, she asks Titus who he really is. The protocols of the system having been breached, it is closed down but it is not too late for them to meet in person finally and perhaps find the love which has eluded them both over time.

For a chronological breakdown of events in the play - including the alternative timeline seen briefly in Act 1 - visit the
Chronological Synopsis page.

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