We knew that the stage area was going to be limited so we had to keep that in mind when designing and preparing the stage. The Royle Family television series gave us the idea of using only a living room and kitchen illustrated by a grotty old couch and remote control for the living room, and pans on a table for the kitchen. This simple staging was effective, a ‘kitchen-sink style drama was used because it provided adaptability in the area around the living room where we could have activities such as, a bingo hall, a darts tournament and a supermarket. Times and cultures were researched and we decided that the play should be set in current times as is The Royle Family, we also decided that we would have a stereotypical mancunian ‘working-class’ household with slight mancunian accents to illustrate the location of the play.
Various texts and images were considered when writing the play, one of which was “Children’s games” by Pieter Breuge. Although this painting captured the image of childhood very well we only had four characters on stage to work with and could not use a large playground scene. A poem that accompanied the painting “Children’s Games” by William Carlos Williams was also considered, however we decided not to use large sections of poetry and instead to make the play as realistic as possible.
We used a ‘counterpoint’ to great effect in the dinnertime scene in which three of the characters ate mouthfuls of food at the same time, this illustrated the families’ prompt, coordinated and significantly boring lifestyle e.g. their weekly menu stays the same. A monologue was used to sum up the play; Hazel playing the character of a young girl named Cheryl, gives the audience an insight on her feelings and how things have gone from being ill tempered in the household, improving to a more pleasant atmosphere. We used repetition with the phrase “you are just speakin’ to the walls!” this was reverberated throughout the play to emphasise the fact that nobody can see Pat apart from Cheryl. I thought that the synchronised movements that involved Cheryl, Bob and Maureen eating tea was done professionally and again demonstrated that the activities in the house run “like clockwork”.
Our presentation was successful because we kept the audience’s attention throughout the play and although some scenes could have done with being slightly longer, it was a good sign that the audience wanted to see more. The “Eastenders” scene was an example of this; we could have sat watching the television for longer, maybe eating sweets or popcorn and a variety of facial expressions could be used for each character e.g. Bob could have an intrigued expression by frowning and tilting his head slightly to one side to convey deep thought. Another improvement would be to add another scene before the play ends.
The biggest asset that the play had was that it was comic. This was fundamental because without laughter the play wouldn’t have fulfilled its purpose as a comedy. We will develop the costume to add hilarity and to trigger laughter in the crowd. The lighting was valuable as it established a passage of time, by dimming the lights after a scene it illustrates to the audience that a particular event has ended. I think the lighting was also a strength of the play. Although the lighting worked well, we did not perfect the timing of sound effects; this proved to be a weakness on two occasions where critical sound effects did not transpire. We will improve the play considerably before performing again, sound effects will be rehearsed to ensure that the audience behold the play as we intend it to be seen. Props may also be improved, one suggestion may be that we use a chip pan or deep fat fryer rather than a pan because a pan is not big enough to fully conceal items from the crowd. My individual performance will be improved by practising a more genuine Irish accent; this will boost my acting quality, as I will feel more self-confident reciting lines in front of the audience.