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Language of 'Abigail's Party' by Mike Leigh.

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Introduction

Language of 'Abigail's Party' Emily Huntley Mike Leigh used to be one of a kind, famous for creating movies through an unusual process that involves extensive rehearsals and improvisations with his actors; a process that begins weeks before anyone picks up a camera. In each of his plays, he has depicted the often-uneventful lives of ordinary people. The results are always far from conventional. And it is through his success that many directors are now using his techniques to capture the texture of everyday life. Leigh achieves this commonness in the majority through his language, although the whole play is based on naturalism, he uses this technique to capture the essence of each characters persona. I think this technique is particularly successful, as the audience finds it easy to relate themselves to the evening unravelling before them, and manage to put themselves in the situations of the characters. Lawrence My first impression of Lawrence was that he was an well-educated, cultured man, who was simply a good social mixer but this is the aim of Leigh. He wanted the audience to believe the opposite of Lawrence and then have their thoughts 'dashed'. In a way I believe that this makes the audience feel vulnerable as if they've been deceived and they then seek comfort in one of the other characters which seem simple and honest and therefore they find themselves 'delving' into the play further. Lawrence speaks in a polite and precise manner 'Ah, yes-now, when would you be best for you? ...read more.

Middle

Beverly babbles incessantly, is garrulous, and uses a lot of personal anecdotes in her dialect. 'Now my bloke had told me to turn left, right? Now we come to the first give way, and the bloke in front slammed his brakes on. Now, I'm going behind him and I suppose I'm going a little bit too quick with me nerves; so I slam on my brakes and I went slap into the back of him.' (Page 9). This is a clear example of Beverly's long and complex sentences, although she also uses short simple sentences 'Lawrence you're going to get heartburn' (Page 2). Beverly is also very colloquial in the way that she speaks, and this makes it easier for the audience to familiarise themselves with her. Similarly to Lawrence, Beverly also 'name drops' to appear culturally educated 'Beaujolais' (Page 11) although from the quote 'Oh it's Beaujolais. Fantastic! Won't be a sec, I'll just pop it in the fridge.'(Page 11) You can tell that Bev clearly has no idea about wine etc. like we originally thought. Generally speaking Beverly is the main character to initiate conversation, she keeps everyone involved and the conversation flowing. She also reiterates a lot to confirm and seek approval, assurance and affirmation. Beverly has a few peculiarities of speech, including the adjectives 'Great' and 'Fantastic'. These are character phrases enable the audience to link these certain words to her, and expect them, I feel this makes the audience feel more at ease with Bev, or simply more irritated by her. ...read more.

Conclusion

She only speaks when spoken to, and never repays the question. When she does answer questions it's always unexpansive, short; clipt one-word answers 'Yes'. It is clear from her dialect that she is uncomfortable and intimidated by the other characters. Her language is very unnatural and similar to that of a guide book. Her vocabulary is old fashioned, formal, and grammar school style. 'Daren't' 'Aren't'. Otherwise it's quite simple and easily understood so it doesn't require any explanations. She never uses colloquial or slang vocabulary. She rarely uses questions in her dialogue as this would initiate conversation. She keeps herself to herself and doesn't want to probe or get involved into either of the troublesome marriages in front of her. Her character phrases seem to be reliant on her politeness 'Yes please' 'No thank you'. It is possible to say that she is trapped by her own politeness, She doesn't have the nerve to leave the party, which she clearly doesn't want to be at. Throughout the play she remains completely unassertive right until the end when her guard drops, and she tells Bev to 'Shut up' (Page 53). Language is a key tool that all playwrights use to distinguish the differences and similarities between each of the characters. The character phrases and accents help the audience to realise the different backgrounds and diversity of the characters. Contributing to the visual aspects, lines give a sense of place and person and how the characters interact with one another. ...read more.

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