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From the play ‘Confustions’ – Notes of ‘Mother Figure’ Essay Sample

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From the play ‘Confustions’ – Notes of ‘Mother Figure’ Essay Sample

Facts:

* Has three children under school age

* Her husband is a travelling salesman and works away from home for long periods of time.

* In the second play ‘Drinking Companions; we meet Harry, trying and failing to talk to Lucy on the phone, staying in a hotel on his travels. In this play he us revealed as a hard drinking, womaniser.

* No longer responds to either telephone bells or door bells; she knows the phone is likely to be Harry “Anything he has to say to me, he can say to my face or not at all.”

* Does not recognise her next door neighbour = little contact with outside world, even that which is close to her.

* Cannot remember the last time she actually got dressed.

IMPORTANT POINTS TO CONSIDER:

* She is very hard on Terry and sympathetic to Rosemary because:

Rosemary reminds her of herself, in the way her husband treats her

Harry expresses opinions about the roles of men and women in a way which we later (in ‘Drinking Companions’) learn reflects Harry’s views too: “I think I quite envy your husband, sometimes. Getting about a bit. . . it’s more natural. For a man. His natural way of life. . . Woman stays in the cave, man the hunter goes off roving at will. Mind you, I think the idea originally was he went off hunting for food. Difference sort of game these days, eh? . . Be after something quite different these days eh?”

* Lucy’s original reaction to Rosemary’s appearance in her house is not what one would expect. She sees a strange woman in her house, uninvited and hardly reacts at all. Why?

* In the opening section of their meeting (Rosemary and Lucy that is) Lucy tries to hold an adult conversation. She gives up only after Rosemary lays down the paper with Harry’s number on it – this seems to push her back into her familiar mother role, and she offers R. a drink as she would to a child. (P5)

* Even though Lucy’s behaviour seems strange you must remember the following:

She succeeds in communicating with Rosemary, breaking down her defences and encouraging her to talk about her unhappy marriage and her own misery, because of her gently motherly approach.

She beats the bullying Terry by bullying him back, firmly.

She opens up between Terry and Rosemary a way of communicating with each other again, by challenging the way they both behave. They go away hand in hand. Lucy has brought the chance of happiness back to their marriage.

One of the tragic elements of this play is that Lucy cannot do the same for her own marriage. Communication breakdown between herself and Harry has become so bad that she will not even talk to him on the phone – this is almost a metaphor for the breakdown of their marriage. We should feel greater pity for Lucy than for Rosemary because we also know that Lucy’s children will be affected, and she has taken the only line of defence she can, immersing herself in her home and family and locking out the outside world.

CHARACTERISATION AND PLAYING LUCY

Characterisation always starts with externals, and first impressions are important for an audience. Arouse the audience’s curiosity about Lucy from the outset:

* Old, faded, tatty, quilted dressing gown. Stained. Buttoned incorrectly. Odd slippers. Hair unbrushed, maybe standing up on end if one of her gestures is running her hand through her hair. Pockets bulging with unidentified bits and pieces.

* Movement: always fast, never rests or sits down, except perhaps perched on the edge of the chair, ready to leap into action when one of her children needs her. Constantly clearing tidying, but to little effect. Shoving things under seat cushions, under settees, in her own pockets. Odd moments of vagueness, when she seems to forget what she was going to do next. Often looks off to the door to upstairs and appears to be listening. Rarely makes eye contact with anyone – so that on the odd occasions that she does, the impact is great, both on the other character and the audience e.g. P4 “Phone call?”. . . “Harry?”P11 “What’s the matter with Rosemary?”

* Gestures: runs her hand through her hair; takes stuff out of her pockets stares at it blankly, and shoves it back; stands with one hand on the back of her hips; touches her own face (do I really still exist?); taps her foot in impatience/annoyance. Motherly gestures towards Terry and Rosemary: Ruffles their hair; smooths their hair; tucks in their labels; wipes dribbles of imaginary orange or milk from their faces; pats seats where she wants them to sit; pushes a toy into their arms to calm/comfort/distract them. Generally touches them in ways one adult does not touch another eg P15 takes Terry’s chin firmly in her hand, looks deep into his eyes and says ” You try. You just dare try, my boy.”

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