Way Upstream: Synopsis

Cast: 3 male / 4 female
Running time (approximate): 2 hours - not including the interval
Acting edition: Published by Samuel French

Keith and his business partner, Alistair, have decided to take their wives, June and Emma, on a cabin-cruiser holiday up the River Orb to Armageddon Bridge. Keith and June’s relationship is shown to be flawed from the outset whilst Alistair and Emma are in a rut, his self-respect diminished and as a consequence hers too; but it is obvious they still have affection and feelings for each other.

The boat sets off from Hadforth Lock, although Keith has neglected to inform Alistair that he has arranged for his secretary, Mrs Hatfield, to meet him each day to update him on the business - specifically with regard to looming union problems. Alistair, although believed to be the best man to deal with these problems, is non-committal and Keith decides to return and confront the problems himself. Alistair, left in charge of the boat, promptly grounds it. Fortunately, the passing Vince offers help and is soon piloting the boat to the next lock. June, besotted with Vince, invites him for a drink and he begins to take control of the boat with incredible efficiency. Everyone is soon subjugated to his will, either willingly like June or unwillingly like Alistair and Emma.

Keith returns. He is unhappy with Vince being aboard but with an all-out strike at the factory looking likely, he leaves again. Vince, meanwhile, reappears with a friend, Fleur, in tow having brought drinks for a party. Keith returns during the party and demands the newcomers leave. Democratically deposed as Captain by Vince, he again departs. Vince subsequently maroons Alistair on an island before indulging in an orgiastic evening with June.

Emma attempts to smuggle food - a tin of baked beans - to her husband. This results in Vince declaring Emma should walk the plank. Alistair, at last, shakes off his indifference and lack of confidence and attempts to rescue Emma. He confronts Vince who, in the ensuing fight, almost beats him senseless. When all hope seems lost, Alistair finds the tin of beans in the river and uses it to knock out Vince. Fleur and June go to Vince’s aid as Emma and Alistair pilot the boat away, heading for Armageddon Bridge. They successfully pass underneath it and find themselves faced with peace and tranquillity. Their love and respect for each other restored, they strip off and dive into the water to an island – although both know they will have to return and face reality at some point.

Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.