The playwright sets out the play in a way in order to make sure the audience keeps their attention throughout the whole play. The two main scenes at the end of both acts are leaving the audience wanting more. One of the most popular love stories of all time is Shakespeare’s’ Romeo and Juliet’ and it is because of this story that the play engages with the audience because West side story is very similar to this. West Side story was designed for the audience to feel sorry for both Tony and Maria, because of the fact that they cannot share their love for each other because of the hatred between both the rival gangs.
There are many points throughout this play that keep the audience interested. The first is the rumble scene right at the beginning of the play between the two gangs; this grabs the audience’s attention immediately, and because the story has not yet developed they are wanting to know why are they doing this, what has happened in the past that makes such hatred between both gangs. The dance scene is another point during the play that develops another plot that grabs the audience’s attention. Both Tony and Maria despite belonging to opposite gangs fall in love at first sight and because they both realise nearer to the end of the scene they both belong to rival gangs, the audience knows for a fact that their love for each other hasn’t even began and their attention is drawn even more into the story to see how their love will develop. At the end of act one, the fight scene, this to me is the main point during the play because it leaves the audience on edge wanting to know what happens next and if Tony and Maria’s love for each other pulls through. In act two Doc tells Tony that Maria has been murdered changes the whole direction of the play and the audience is keen to see Tony’s reaction to what Doc has actually said to him. This leads to the final scene where Tony’s death takes place and makes the audience feel very sorry for Maria and the play finishes not leaving a cliff hanger for the audience to hold onto and leaves them in satisfaction.
The play explores the use of suspense, climax and tension in many ways. The dance scene is one of the first where tension is brought up between the two gangs because even though on the surface they are appearing to be having a good time underneath the two rival gangs share their hatred for each other. The creation of suspense is shown at the end of both acts one and two with the deaths of both Riff and Bernardo and where Tony is left standing over the two bodies holding a knife and then realising what he has actually done, the suspense was created when Riff and Bernardo are facing each other both holding knives and just a few minutes later, both are on the floor dead. Also these scenes are also used for creating climax to the end of the scenes, with Riff and Bernardo dieing at the end of act one which creates climax leaving this act on a cliff hanger. Then at the end of act two when Tony dies this creates a climax just when he is shot down leaving to finish the whole play.
The main characters of this play are Tony and Maria but also key characters throughout this play are Riff, Bernardo, Chino and Doc. Tony and Maria are essential parts within this play to show their love for each other which causes the deaths of Riff, Bernardo and Tony. Riff and Bernardo are to show the hatred between the two gangs providing a base to the story. Chino is important because Tony is told the Chino has murdered Maria and Chino is the man that kills Tony at the end of the play. Also Doc is a key character during this story because he is the man who tells Tony about Chino shooting Maria which alters the whole play. Riff is first introduced into the story at the beginning with Bernardo who are shown to be the leaders of both gangs and both want to get rid of their opponents so that the neighbourhood is ran by one gang. Riff and the Jets just want to stop the ‘foreigners’ from trying to take over their neighbourhood whist Bernardo and the Sharks just want to get rid of the Jets and want to get on with their new lives and survive in America. Tony is first introduced working at the drug store away from the Jets and seems to see more to life than just fighting and living for the Jets because he feels there is something very big coming towards him in his life very soon even though he doesn’t know what it actually is. Chino and Doc have very small parts in the play but are very important to the whole story line and have key roles within the play.
In the play there are three real action scenes. The first is the ‘rumble’ scene at the beginning of the play. This is very important as it introduces the rivalry between the two gangs. The second is at the end of act one as this provides an essential link in the plot as it sets up the stage for the finale of the play and the third action scene is where Tony gets shot by Chino which concludes the play and is very important to the whole plot and the end everything ends.
The audience is captured into the story because of how the plot evolves throughout the play. Firstly the rivalry between the two gangs. How will they sort out their differences, will they sort out their differences by the end of the play? The audience are eager to know what will happen as they know something big will eventually happen between them both. The love story between Tony and Maria shows the audience that love can happen in many ways and can be between anyone, this keeps the audience watching because of the rivalry between both gangs will their true love be put forward or will the rivalry stop their love altogether? Finally, the deaths at the end of act one of Riff and Bernardo leaves the audience hanging on the edge about what is going to happen next between Maria and Tony and between the two gangs themselves.
The plot and story resolves itself in many ways throughout the story. We first see Tony as a young man trying to discover himself and wanting to see more in life. He is waiting for something and he finally finds Maria but because at first he does not know this first of all this comes back through the middle and the ending of the play because he has found what he had been looking and waiting for. He does not know how to deal with Maria he gets shot by Chino for the revenge of the death of Bernardo. Chino shoots Tony then forces Maria to take the gun and she asks everyone what is the point in all the fighting, violence and rivalry when violence does nothing shows nothing and finally solves nothing.