James Saunders   |   bibliography

A Slight Accident  -  by James Saunders (1961)

First performance at the Nottingham Playhouse, October 1961, with the following cast -

   -    Joan Heal
   -    Rosamund Greenwood
   -    Patrick Blackwell
    Directed by Frank Dunlop

© 1968 James Saunders
published by Andre Deutsch, (London, England), 1968
(Neighbours and other plays - James Saunders)
ISBN-10: 0233960309
ISBN-13: 978-0233960302
also contains Neighbours + Triangle + Trio + Alas, Poor Fred + Return To A City + The Pedagogue

© 1968 James Saunders
published by Heinemann Educational Books, (London, England), 1968
(Neighbours and other plays - James Saunders)
ISBN-10: 0435237861
ISBN-13: 978-0435237868
also contains Neighbours + Trio + Triangle + Alas, Poor Fred + Return to a City + The Pedagogue
commentary by Ronald Hayman

A Slight Accident: a comedy, both bizarre and elegant.

- (inside cover, Andre Deutsch, 1968)

A Slight Accident was written in the spring of 1961 for the Nottingham Playhouse company who wanted something to present in a double bill with Alas Poor Fred in October. Like the earlier plays it yokes violent death together with casual conversation, but this time the killing is over just before the curtain goes up. With the revolver still smoking in her hands, Penelope launches comically into her polite, slightly affected middle-class clichés as she invite a neighbour up to watch television.

"My husband isn't much company at the moment ... You don't know at all what I mean ... Darling, please ... Yes, we've had it fixed ... Yes, the picture's prefect now ... That's sweet of you."

When Camilla arrives, Saunders makes some play with a conventional kind of thrillery suspense - will she find Harry's body under the bearskin rug? - using it and parodying it at the same time as making Penelope improvise.

Rodger, Camilla's husband, is a more conventional character but his conventionality is part of the point. He lives by routine and thinks in clichés. The comedy that follows is partly verbal comedy as Penelope invents, contrdicts herself and rephrases sentences in a cross-talk act with Camilla and Rodger, which verges on vaudeville. But it's also situation comedy. Penelope had the slight accident of shooting Harry because she was unlucky enough to be distracted by a mouse and, like her marriage to Harry, which was also the result of accident, it proves that we aren't in control of things, able to chose, as Rodger thinks we are. The end is very clever: just as we've learnt that Harry was much the same kind of man as Rodger, we see Rodger destroying himself in the same way that Harry did - by putting the revolver into his wife's hands, confident that she won't shoot.

- Ronald Hayman (from the commentary, Heinemann, 1968)

also see A Slight Accident" au lycée Bayen de Châlons-en-Champagne

James Saunders   |   bibliography

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revised 16 February 2008
URL: http://www.jamessaunders.org/jsaccid.htm