Lovers and Liars : A David Garrick Double Bill
Leslie Smith writes in Modern British Farce that one of the ‘functions’ of Farce is to establish the ‘vraisemblable’. That is to say, to establish what is ‘likely’ within the specific social decorum of a play; what is ‘permitted to happen in a work of art’ ? (pg1 1989). When two characters from the same social class who are eligible for marriage exist within a farcical play, the audience tend to expect that a situation through which they will marry, no matter how unlikely, will almost inevitably occur. This kind of inevitability within a play, especially one that is intended to be a comedy, runs the risk of being perceived as predictable by the audience. The challenge that faces the cast and the directorial team in the production of a farcical play is the creation of a controlled chaos; an accelerating disaster that sweeps around the stage that is both inevitably resolved whilst excitingly unpredictable in its course and nature.
Smith also states that Farce ‘..depends on the principles of repetition and accumulation. Which in turn weakens the resistance of the audience, and make their laughter easier to trigger off’ (Smith 1989, p. 208). This week we have been exploring characterisation techniques and states of tension. Techniques such as Chekhov’s ‘Imaginary Body’, under Luke De Belder’s direction, have allowed us to begin creating distinct and consistent behavioral states of the main characters. By defining and drilling the actors within these states, we are laying the foundations that are necessary for rapid, farcical and (fingers crossed) comical changes in physical and vocal performance on stage.
These speedy changes are not only vital in maintaining the momentum of the farcical machine as a whole, but also in enabling Sharps lies to become physical and, thus, facilitating a dynamic embodiment of the characters and events that he creates. I would argue that the crucial human nature needed to be present for farce to function is that the characters must perceive danger and react to avoid it. Although Sharp is not in any immediate physical danger from an aggressor, the threat of poverty and destitution is however very real to him. Our understanding of the characters motivation, such as Sharps desperation to feed himself, will be crucial to rehearsals in the coming weeks. Without at least one of the four fundamental ‘F’s’ of human desire (Feeding, Fleeing, Fighting or Fornication), a farce will not ‘rebel against convention and morality’ (Smith 1989, p. 5) to the extent necessary to impel the plot forwards.