Sunday, May 31, 2009

The play ends...

The play is over. I'm sorry, and I'm glad. It's always sad to see the end of such an enterprise: the friends you make, the entity that's a combination of the script and the actors and all the other facets, and the enjoyment of performing (when you burn fat more than you realise!). But it's also a relief to have some space again. (And the last essay for the Varsity course is now done and sent off as well.)

When We Are Married is an interesting play. It's not as famous as some of Priestly's other works, such as An Inspector Calls (at least as far as I'm aware), but it's obviously a popular choice for amateur and professional groups alike. (The St Peter's Church Players' amateur version on You Tube [see below], which shows the last ten minutes or so of the play, seems however rather turgidly done for a comedy.)

The characters in the play are superbly drawn, with lots of detail - especially the three husbands. There's plenty of room for them to swing from total self-importance to virtual defeat and back again. The wives are different again; Clara's sudden descent from aggressive bossiness may be a bit sudden, but it gives the audience huge satisfaction: every single night they clapped with delight at her downfall. Annie is the quiet one, but her long conversation with her husband Albert in the third act is a supreme example of how to undermine pomposity. And there's a wonderful buildup to her response after he asks, How long has been feeling like this, and she says, Twenty-five years, (which just happens to be how long they've been married).

Maria is different again: in this production she was played with considerable authority and warmth. I think you could also play the part differently, as someone who is less confident and finally realises she's going to have to fight for her man. And that's another great facet of the script: each part can be interpreted differently to the way we played the parts (as the St Peter's Players testify!)
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