A short play
TRAVEL IN HOPE BY TOM MURRAY
At one end of the carriage the young man and young woman stand as if the train is full and all the seats are taken. They are facing each other but not looking at each other. The woman is reading a book. When the Ticket Inspector enters and starts his story they act out his thoughts when indicated. They do not speak. At other times they act like two strangers, totally disinterested in each other.
Ticket Inspector enters. He goes around the ‘audience’ checking tickets as if they are passengers.
INSPECTOR-- Tickets please. At the ready. Thank you.
( Actor can improvise questions from passengers. ie: time of arrival etc. He stops short of the man and woman and turns back to face audience.)
INSPECTOR-- Maybe leave them for now. What do you think? We don’t want to cut in at the wrong moment do we? Mind you it might get them talking. Look at them. You can tell they’re aching for one of them to start the ball rolling. Come on just talk and everything else will fall into place. I promise. That’s what happened to me you know. You see I used to travel this train. Out to Wemyss Bay. Used to take tickets for the ferry. Now I…
But that’s another story. Back to our lovebirds eh. Everyday travelling the same route. Fate throwing them together for a reason. If only they…Don’t you just want to shout at them? Talk and everything will fall into place. For I believe that. Everything falling…I’m a romantic. That’s my problem. Always have been. ‘Sleepless In Seattle.’ That’s my favourite. Talk and everything will fall…
Maybe I will ask for their tickets.
(He goes to do so but stops and turns away, his back now to the couple.)
No. For what if I’m wrong? No you’re not. You’re not wrong. You have an instinct. I have you know. I can tell. I look at people and say…Banker. Housewife. Policeman. Out of uniform of course. I can tell. Just by looking if they’re…Happy. Or sad. And I try to…I know their futures. I write them you see. Inside my head of course. It gets me through the day. Makes it more…Not that I’m unhappy in my job of course. Let’s knock that one on the head right away. I’m perfectly happy and contented. It’s just…Those two. Everyday they travel this line and they never speak and I can tell…I can tell they’re aching inside to…But they’ll be okay. I have a gut feeling about them. In the long run it’ll be worth all the misery…It will. They don’t need me to bring them together. Fate will find a way.
( Woman drops her book. Inspector turns round then back again, his back to the couple. )
He’ll pick up the book.
(The man doesn’t move. The woman picks up the book and carries on reading.)
Because he’s a gentleman. A romantic. They’ll get talking. The ice will be broken. And they’ll plunge right in. For the fates have decreed.
The fates have decreed that their eyes meet.
(The couple’s eyes meet.)
He says something witty and intelligent.
(Man ‘talking’ woman listening intently.)
And the fates have decreed that life will become a blur; of butterflies in the stomach; of sleepless nights and running for the train and…
( Man brings out a red rose from his pocket.)
He’s a gentleman. A romantic.
(Man gets down on one knee and brings out a ring. The couple hug and kiss.)
They live happily ever.
( Long Pause as if a memory crossing his brain.)
I just have to look. Happy. Sad. Happy…
( The couple argue. She throws the ring at the man.)
Tom and Meg in ‘Sleepless in Seattle.’ That’s my favourite.
(Man brings out flowers which the woman rejects.)
The fates decree that boy wins girl; boy loses girl and boy….and just when you think…
(The woman and man go back to original position of disinterest.)
Boy wins girl. I’m a romantic you see.
(Trains pulls into station.)