• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How Important Are the Stage Directions and Technical Effects in Creating the Rising Dramatic Tension in Act Two of 'Abigail's Party' by Mike Leigh?

Extracts from this document...


How Important Are the Stage Directions and Technical Effects in Creating the Rising Dramatic Tension in Act Two of 'Abigail's Party' by Mike Leigh? In my opinion, stage directions and technical effects are an essential part of creating dramatic tension, and a sense of atmosphere. The stage directions can be aimed at the actors, the director, the sound crew, or the lighting technicians, but ultimately all cohere, to help the atmosphere and tension. All through the play, the satirical styles of the characters are amusing, but sometimes down right annoying - which I think was done deliberately to represent her character. I think Elizabeth Berrington's character, Beverly, is one of the best examples of this. Her bossy and aggravating manner towards her husband and others dominated the first half of the play. It was, however, overpowered in numbers when the main creator of the tension became the receiver. Towards the end of the play, she was, for example, shouted down, pushed around, and told to shut up. The main surprise of all was when Wendy Nottingham delivered Susan's line: 'Will you just shut up for one minute?' Susan, being the 'weakest' one of, all seemed to 'break' last. Tony, who appeared to come across as quiet and unsociable, became violent in the play version, and grabbed Angela's arm, while delivering the line 'you just can't keep your big mouth shut, can you? Get up!' ...read more.


All the way through the play, I feel that the relationships between the married characters deteriorate. For example, from the time Laurence arrived home from work, Beverly and he were already getting on each others nerves, and throughout the play, they are the cause of multiple points of dramatic tension. An example of this would be when Laurence arrives back from checking Abigail's party, and asks Sue if she wants a sandwich, Beverly and he have a sort of 'battle' to see who is right. The tension peaks when Laurence runs up to Beverly with a knife, and this shock is represented by a complete freeze on stage. The silence lurks until Beverly, in a 'kind' voice says 'Laurence, will you please go back into the kitchen and finish making your little sandwich, all right?' I feel very annoyed at Beverly for this line, because I thought she was the cause of it, and the way she very quickly added on the 'all right' is very symbolic of her complete disregard of the intensity and seriousness of the situation. Another example of the dramatic tension between Beverly and Laurence is when Beverly puts on the Elvis Presley record loud, and Laurence tries to turn it down so that he can hold a conversation. Then, when Beverly rushes to the record to turn it up, Laurence grabs her arm. The stage direction is important here. 'Beverly turns the volume up. Laurence turns it off. Beverly goes to turn it on; Laurence grabs her arm. Pause. ...read more.


I feel that if Berrington simply poked him, and said 'but you're soaking wet,' I don't feel this would have been effective enough in getting across the relationship. As a result of doing it the way she did. Berrington was able to keep Beverly's mild erotically slutty nature alive. I think this play was also a representation of life in the late 1970s. Women's Liberation was a big thing in the 70s. I think Beverly is a prime example of how women were becoming more in control of themselves and others. Her strong character and her sense of independence, can back up Greer's thoughts. The Australian lecturer at Warwick University in England claimed that the book (The Female Eunuch) was designed to be an inspiration to women. 'If women were to realise their true potential as independent people, the world would be a better place.' She also claimed that 'marriage was a legalised form of slavery for women.' I also think that this play is an illustration of how, although high inflation, bad industrial relations, and unemployment reaching record levels under Callaghan's Labour government, people still seemed to have their sense of occasion. This is evident in the celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee throughout Britain and the Commonwealth - including street parties and a rather expansive Royal tour of the Commonwealth. This display of national pride and patriotism can be related to Beverly and Laurence because even though their marriage was hitting rock bottom, they still made their best efforts to entertain guests. 2 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Theatre Studies section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Theatre Studies essays

  1. Abigail's Party by Mike Leigh - Plot and Subplot

    Development: The plot/characters develop, and the play continues and unfolds, revealing the characters for who they really are. The tension is built up which is an important element of Abigail's Party. As the play continues, new situations arise, the plot deepens to reveal that Beverly & Laurence actually don't get

  2. The Job - Dramatic aims and objectives.

    Let me give you something of a first impression; when he was just 17, he caught his mate fuckin' his girl. He grabbed the closest thing to him, which unfortunately for his mate happened to be an axe. He proceeded to hack his mate to pieces before throwing the girl out the window.

  1. The Women In Black By Susan Hill.

    Drablows part). A mask created this effect. This was very practical for the actress, but also because of the plastic material. When the women was spotlighted as was very frequent her face reflected sending shivers up ones spine. 'Actor' who acted within the play of the play the part of Mr.

  2. Structure and Form of Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party

    characters and visualise themselves as the characters or visualise people they know as the characters.

  1. Having read Susan Hill's novel 'The Woman in Black' as well as studied Stephen ...

    Without these next conventions the atmosphere and feeling wouldn't be the same within the ghost story. In every book and story the setting is vital. It sets the scene and helps the reader become involved in the book. In ghost stories the convention is to have a desolate, isolated location.

  2. Temptation piece. We were asked to think about temptation, and discuss what we were ...

    We also thought it was important to show how hard it was for homeless people to get their lives sorted out, so that people wouldn't think the only reason people like Kate are homeless is because they are too lazy to work.

  1. No direction home play review

    Dee (Actor): I think the actor highlighted the subtleties involved in playing this character extremely well. She showed a much exaggerated character with a babyish voice, babyish walk and babyish gestures. This worked very well with the 10 year old Dee.

  2. What effects would you wish to create for your audience through your performance of ...

    and the following lines would be delivered as before; I would relax my muscles, to slouch slightly as before, and speak very quickly and quite quietly. I would resume the fidgeting with the cap and the shuffling of my feet.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work