Lovers and Liars : A David Garrick Double Bill
In Lakshmi Srinivas’ analysis of early 20th Century master/servant relationships, she observes that phrases such as ‘the butler did it’ from a British detective novel, intended to be comical, provide clues to the ways in which servants were perceived at the time. The humour supposedly stemming from the preposterousness of the statement, as ‘The butler being a marginal person in the household was the most unlikely of all to have done the deed.’ Such attitudes towards domestic servants as being ‘marginalised’ people, might suggest to a modern directorial team that the ‘correct’ location for servant characters of a play would be to have them sidelined in the periphery of the stage, leaving the Masters to dominate and control the central space. A show performed on the TFTV Scenic Stage representing the master servant relationships in such a way, would be seriously limited and restricted. Arguably the audience would have clearer sight lines of the action due to the substantial distance between performers, however, this would mean that marginalised performers would have their potential for prompting laughter sidelined also.
Despite this, Srinivas goes on to suggest that it is the subversion of such societal norms and values that generates the humour. This is achieved through a ‘surprise twist’ generated by a servant or ‘non-person’, where the master is sidelined, perhaps by the servant himself, thus allowing the servant to take centre stage. During the course of an hour long farce this cannot happen just once however. The subversion has to occur and reoccur, over and over again throughout. To maintain any state of stability would come too close to a representation of normality – something that stops the momentum of a farce dead. The attitude that Luke and I have taken towards the blocking of the show, is that any kind of prolonged stasis on the stage is to be avoided. The balance of people’s locations, their movements and who has been ‘marginalised’ should be constantly and suddenly shifting. The movements of our actors during rehearsals in the past few days have begun to take on the oscillating properties of an accelerated Hoberman Sphere. Each performer a hinged joint; Rotating and turning, expanding and collapsing.