"Billy Liar" was originally a novel written by Keith Waterhouse. In
the late fifties/early sixties, Waterhouse collaborated with Willis
Hall to turn the novel into a play. It is about a boy called Billy
Fisher, his life, relationships, attitudes and lies. The story takes
place on one Saturday in the Fisher household.
During the late 1950's, teenagers were gaining more responsibility.
For the first time, it was them who had to support the family as many
adults were killed during the war. As they had jobs, teenagers had
their own money to spend. This created businesses aimed at teenagers.
Teenagers were starting to like different music and wear different
clothes rather than follow their parents like in previous times. This
was seen as rebellious by elders and highly disrespectful. At this
time, teenagers were also beginning to have their own opinions and no
longer went by the saying "children should be seen and not heard".
A great role model of the time was Elvis Presley. Teenagers saw him as
'cool' and good-looking - and he gave them a style/image to follow.
What made him even greater was that adults hated him - because he was,
in their opinion, disgusting. Elvis became a symbol of individuality
Fashion wasn't the only factor that changed. Teenagers were given more
freedom and started to own their own houses. Before, there could be
two or three generations of a family living in the same house. With
all the money teenagers were making, it was no longer necessary to
stay in their parents homes. In some ways, this made families drif...
... middle of paper ...
... wanted; to be as different from their parents as possible. This is
still the same today and so, the play is still enjoyable now as it is
still relevant. The lies are so far fetched that it is still
entertaining and, although we no longer use some of the swear words,
we still understand what the characters mean by them.
This play sums up the change from children being exactly the same as
their parents (before the 1950s) to children wanting freedom and
independence (after the 1950s). It is put in a fun, light hearted play
which deals with serious issues in society at the time - issues which
have been highlighted by the writers' use of structural, linguistic
and dramatic techniques. This is an enjoyable play to read and watch
as it is very lively and entertaining - even today, some half a
century after it was written.
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