Lovers and Liars : A David Garrick Double Bill
(Actor playing ‘Gayless’)
As we settle in to week six of the process, Mr. Charles Gayless, or Charles William Gayless Allen as I like to call him, is starting to come to life! Having spent a number of weeks focusing on close textual analysis and general comedic exercises from practitioners such as Anton Chekhov, Maria Aitken and John Wright, we are now moving on to closer character based work, as well as loosely blocking scenes in order to get a feel for the farce. Obviously the early work we did was completely necessary and indeed very useful, but for me personally this more recent character work has seemed more beneficial and has made it feel like the cogs of the play are now well and truly in motion. One of the most challenging parts of the process for me, thus far, has been the paradoxical nature of Gayless, an 18th Century comic tool. For example, he is convinced that he is a man of “honour and conscience”, yet he has squandered all of his fortune, presumably given to him by his father Sir William Gayless, and intends to marry for money (though I must point out that he does ostensibly fall in love with Melissa anyway). Similarly, given that Gayless is Sharp’s master, he is above him in social status and therefore we might expect him to consistently demonstrate the higher status. However, due to Sharp’s wit and intelligence, and Gayless’s lack thereof, it is in fact Sharp who has the higher status for the most part. Furthermore, when the guests arrive for the party, Gayless is evidently terrified of being found out as penniless, and so has to put on a seemingly calm front so as not to draw attention to his circumstances. Thus, playing Gayless is a constant balancing act between letting the audience know the truth of any given situation, whilst putting on a front to make him appear like an honourable gentleman to the other characters of the play.