As the play begins the protagonists are twelve-year-old sixth graders. One of them, Daniel Rocket, is firmly convinced that he can fly, a belief that causes him to be shunned and ridiculed by his schoolmates—including the girl he adores and for whose regard he is driven to prove himself. Oddly enough, however, it turns out that Daniel can fly, although, initially he does so in secret. When, at last, he demonstrates his talent to the others, he straps on wings (although he doesn't need them) in deference to their stubborn disbelief. From then on, Daniel soars to fame and fortune and, in the second half of the play, which takes place twenty years later, he returns home a renowned celebrity. But he has also become, in a sense, the symbol of the exceptional person, the genius who has outdistanced those around him and, in so doing, has isolated himself not only from his childhood but from the simple joys and tender emotions shared by those whom he has left behind. Torn by growing uncertainty, Daniel finds his gift waning and, in the climax of the play, he suffers a fatal crash—victim both of his distrusted uniqueness and of the unwitting need of others to bring down what they cannot understand or emulate.
A true original, this fresh and richly imaginative work explores the trauma of growing up from a unique and arresting point of view. A critical and popular success in its production by New York's Playwrights Horizons, the play marked the further creative growth of a young writer of exceptional potential. "…bears ardent testimony of Parnell's freshness, originality and gleaming talent." —NY Post. "…it is grounded in truth about the mutual hurtfulness of children and the need for illusion in their young lives." —NY Times.