Alan Bennett's Monologues as Dramas

Alan Bennett's Monologues as Dramas

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Alan Bennett's Monologues as Dramas

These plays are written for TV rather than theatre and are
experimental for different styles of acting with more emphasis being
placed on the single actors face. This is in order to show subtle
changes in expressions hopefully giving the viewer a more clear
insight into the characters feelings. This is more appropriate for "A
Cream Cracker…" as it is a moving story, which is portrayed, even more
so in the subtle movement of Doris's face "Cracked the photo. We're
cracked, Wilfred." Doris has cracked her wedding photo to her late
husband Wilfred, the sadness being emphasized not only through her
voice but through facial expressions is far more effective. It also
works well in "Her Big Chance" as the falseness of Leslie comes across
through her trying to be professional and the false gestures and
expressions she puts into doing this. "Are you on the cans because id
like some direction on this point." Here Leslie is an extra on the
daytime soap Crossroads and is asking for direction on the simplest of
parts, in order to suggest that she is professional so that she might
get a call back. While putting this across to the viewers she uses
gestures suggesting that Rex is not as professional and devoted to the
job as her.

In these plays there is only a single actor/actress in these cases
"Leslie" and "Doris" with all the other characters seen through the
eyes of the main character. This does not give us the chance to have
our own opinions about the other characters but gives us the views and
opinions of the main character. This is useful on both plays as
although it tells us less about sub characters it tells us a lot more
about "Leslie" and "Doris" and their feelings about the people around
them. "I've a feeling Scott may be gay" Leslie suggests this as he is
the only man, to date, involved in the film who has not attempted to
take advantage of her naivety. This tells us of how she is naive and
finds herself extremely attractive, as the first man who doesn't make
a sexual advance towards her is labeled gay. "Zulema doesn't dust. She
half-dusts." From this we learn that Doris takes pride in her home and
likes it spick and span, also that she thinks she is able to live
alone and does not need home help. It also tells us a bit about
Zulema, that she is not fully devoted to her work as the dusting is
only half done.

Both actresses portray the characters very well and make them both

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unique and likable. Doris is likable due to her simple ness and we
automatically feel sympathy for her as she lives alone and is unable
to do many things herself, therefore Zulema is employed to do the
housework but that still doesn't get done to Doris's standards. Alan
Bennett has used pathos here to show us how hard it is for old people
to manage everyday things while living on their own. Leslie is
likeable as she is humorous without meaning to be, she also tends to
make a fool of herself towards the viewers and her co-workers. "I' not
used to working like this" Leslie is comparing the provisions and the
time she is left sitting around to a major film 'Tess', as far as we
know this is the only major film she has worked on. She was an extra
and named her single scene character with no lines, 'Chloe'.

In these plays the actors are talking directly to the viewer but the
viewer is not involved in the conversation instead is more like an
eavesdropper on the actor who is talking to herself. This could be
incorrect as there are several pauses in the story, which could be
there for the audience to reply. This could be were the drama is
involved, with the viewers ability to interact with the actor as such.
The drama could also be with the single actor playing the parts of
several characters as they recall what had happened and the
conversations that they had involvement in. " 'you look an interesting
person. I'm interested in interesting people. Hello.' He said,
'Hello.' " Leslie is talking us through the conversation she had with
'Spud', which shows that interaction can take place with only one
person on screen.

These stories could have been performed in a more traditional manner
using a full cast and having flashbacks acted out in order to give a
more in depth view to what happened as opposed to the actor giving us
their view. A problem with this is that almost every drama is
performed like this and the idea of one character telling us about the
events is original and gives us a different perspective to look at.
These dramas could also be made for a next to nothing budget with one
actor, simple backgrounds and no props to pay for.

With one actor on screen we are forced to pay attention to them, which
helps us to pay more attention to the story that is being told, as sub
characters are not constantly intruding upon the scene. We also get
one persons view on the whole event, which makes it easier to
understand, as there is no overlaps in personality. "She's not half
done this place, Zulema." If Zulema were actually on stage she could
argue her case and our concentration would no longer be on the story
but we would be focused on the intrusive argument.

From just 30 minutes of viewing a single character we can learn a lot
about them, more so than if other characters were involved. We know
that Doris is extremely hygiene conscious through her experiences with
Zulema, we know that her husband Wilfred is dead and she misses him a
lot as she mentions him a lot through out the story. "Wilfred was
always hankering after a dog." Wilfred is brought into the story at
every opportunity. We also know she is unable to completely look after
herself and needs home help which she is not entirely happy about. We
know that Leslie is in her early 30's and lives on her own in a flat.
We know she is a part time actress who would take almost any part that
comes along. We know she is willing to learn various skills for
particular parts and is extremely enthusiastic. "I'm very happy to
learn both chess and water-skiing," We also know she is extremely
gullible and naïve "I am wedded to my small charges" Kenny 'the animal
holder' makes Leslie believe he wouldn't sleep with her in order to
get her to his room, to see a cat, by saying this.

I thought the two dramas worked incredibly well and was surprised that
I found them both enjoyable and interesting. It was a welcome change
to see the dramas acted out this way as opposed to the conventional
way of several actors playing out the occurrences. I found myself more
emotionally involved as the emotions being acted out by the characters
were clearer. As a compliment to Alan Bennett I would very much like
to see the other two 'Talking Heads' plays.
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