English Coursework- ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’
What makes this play an interesting drama?
All Things Bright and Beautiful is a comedy with serious implications. The meaning of this play is far too strong to be ever sunk in comedy. Waterhouse and Hall have captured the audiences’ attention well with the witty comedic side to this play, but have also introduced a very serious element, that is the destruction of all things bright and beautiful. The plight of the Hesseltine family is a very real one, and ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ is the story of a family faced with the indignities of having to depend on petty bureaucracy for happiness and even the essentials of life. In the introduction to this play, Waterhouse and Hall declare: “ It is not a farce about a bunch of ‘layabouts’ who miraculously acquire a church lectern.” The writers emphasize here that there is a serious, sometimes grave meaning to ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful.’
The use of irony makes the audience recognise some important messages in this play. The hymn ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ itself is a cheery tune often sung by children, most favoured by the younger generation of society. This could be because it makes the children appreciate what they have, and to satisfy parents/teachers that the young children have learned to be thankful for what they have and grateful for what they have been taught be their elders. Yet it is not found to be sung in traditional or modern churches alike. Many argue it is irritating, as it patronizes adults to the opposite of the truth. The truth that in this society there are many things that are Bright and Beautiful, but also, more importantly, many things that are not. So many dispute that the phrase ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ is erroneous. This could be why adults find this hymn so exasperating. This attitude is very much what is applied in the play, showing many of the ‘downsides’ of the world at this time, and presenting the destruction of many things that are bright and beautiful. This play is ultimately a depressing, sad story in which everything seems to go wrong for this working-class family, living in a poorly cared for council house in the early 1960’s. When the audience first catch a glimpse of the Hesseltine family it seems there is no optimism or hope. But as the play unfolds it turns out many of the characters share optimism, and have hopes for the future, not just for them, but for others too (such as Queenie). These unfortunately later in the play turn out to be nothing more than ironic dreams. They dream of a brand-new council house (when they eventually move), with a garden, situated in a pleasant neighbourhood, but these dreams are stolen away from them when the council decides to instead move them to a newly opened block of flats, locating them on the eighth floor. Another way that this title can be seen to be ironic is through the authors’ intent to emphasize the destruction of ‘things bright and beautiful’. For example, the beating of Rory by Queenie – many people consider young people to be something ‘bright and beautiful.’ The Lectern especially, is an item of great value and beauty. Queenie has plans for it but by the end of the play, it also, has been destroyed.