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The Dumb Show - critical review

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Varun Aswani The London Stage 3rd November 2004 The Dumb Show What people do not know, will not hurt them. The Dumb Show is a play set in modern times involving tabloid journalists and celebrities. Tabloid journalists have one goal in mind; that is, to extract as much information from a famous individual's personal life and share that with the rest of humanity. Many of these journalists are extremely cunning and may take on an exceeding amount of risk to achieve this goal. Deception, the main theme is achieved through Liz and Greg, our two journalists, whom take comedian, Barry for a spin. Several elements make up a good theatrical performance, these are, sets, lighting, props, costumes and characters. The Dumb Show is performed at the Royal Court theatre on a modern, proscenium-arch theatre. This stage was chosen in accordance to the play's intended effect. The director wanted to promote the fourth wall effect which made one intrude on Barry's life as a comedian and his rendezvous with deception. This stage promoted realism acting - in the sense that the actors were not acting towards an audience but instead were being observed by an audience that can look through this 'imaginary' fourth wall. There is one set used throughout the entire play. Every scene was performed at a hotel room. ...read more.


Little did he know that they were not bankers and he was being recorded via video and audio means. Deception is achieved mainly through the aid of these props. Costumes express occupation, status, character and character changes. We begin the play with all three characters dressed in suits. Liz's costume screams sex appeal so that Barry would be interested in her. In the second scene, she is not wearing her intellectual glasses; instead, she sits in a revealing position showing off her tiny skirt. Barry, being a man in search of lost love from his ill wife, finds himself touching and flirting with Liz. Once again, Liz's costume deceives him into being caught on video. Barry's 'immaculate suit' slowly becomes scrubby and untidy has he winds himself into a mess. The only time when the characters were not dressed professionally was in the final scene. Liz and Barry meet at the hotel dressed in casual clothing for a casual conversation. Although this conversation ends up in a business matter, the clothing was appropriate as Liz came to apologize and Barry to say his last goodbyes as a changed individual. Each character possesses certain personality traits that are essential to depict a real life scenario. Actors without sets, lighting, props, and costumes can convey a message that the director intends to provide. ...read more.


It is inappropriate for any individual's life to be scrutinized and judged. On this note, one can feel very strongly for celebrities who face tabloid journalist that can make or break your life. Barry's relationship with Liz is one which can be described as a 'love-hate' relationship. In the beginning, we learn he is driven by money to perform the show. He hates her for writing the article but yearns for a woman's touch and love. Both his mother and his wife have left him, and at the end we find that he succumbs to Liz not for the drive of money but instead because he wants someone to listen and care for him. Every theatrical performance has a message to deliver or at least something to offer. The Dumb Show brings you into the life of a common celebrity that is exploited. Barry was blackmailed into doing something he voluntarily would not have done. The life of many individuals living carelessly involves sex, drugs, alcohol and money. However, these should not be used against them to extract information. This is personal and should not hurt appreciators of a celebrity's art. At the end, many feel little remorse for Barry because he agrees to do the article for money. Then again, would you not do the same if you were put in such a position? The world is a dumb show, where many assume money can buy happiness, information and everything else one desires. Aswani, 1 ...read more.

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