Issues in the play

Back to my previous point, to emphasise that the characters are not supposed to be centre of attention, the characters bring on the props and furniture on themselves. This action reminds the audience that they are actors telling a story and playing parts, and so to some extent helps to distance the audience from the characters. I use scenes of varied lengths to differ more important issues from others. Where there is a need to look at an event in closer detail, the scenes are longer and contain much more information. Many scenes are short so the audience do not get to know the characters too well; therefore the characters are more distant compared to the issues in the play.

The audience are asked to judge. So there is a real message in your play is there? What are you showing the audience, and what are you asking them to decide? Yes, of course, like in any story there is always a message. One of the main things I am asking the audience to decide is whether money can buy you a better life. Between Mrs. Johnston and Mrs. Lyons there is an incredible class difference. On one hand, you have Mrs. Lyons who can give a baby everything money can buy. On the other hand, however, you have Mrs. Johnston who is making up excuses to not pay the milkman; for the Johnston family life is a real struggle.

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As you see in the play, Mickey’s mother, Mrs. Johnston, is very short of money. When the milkman comes round asking for the milk to be paid, Mrs. Johnston says, ‘I will pay you next week’. The milkman says in the return, ‘But next week never comes as far as you’re concerned’. I include this scene to show Mrs. Johnston’s financial difficulties as she has to use the same excuse more than once to avoid paying the milkman.

Later in the play, when Mrs. Lyons is convinced that Mrs. Johnston is following her, she orders, ‘Edward, you will have to go away to school.’ Edward, the twin given away, is not very happy with the fast decision. The decision is so fast for two main reasons: Mrs. Lyons does not want any trouble, and Mrs. Lyons has the financial backing from her husband to do anything she feels needed. Here, the audience see how being rich can be beneficial in certain circumstances – having the flexibility which working-class people do not have.

Since Edward goes to a private school, he is already at an advantage when it comes to getting qualifications and a job. Edward gets good grades, and manages to go to university. Mickey, though, goes to a normal school, where there is the possibility of him hanging with the wrong crowd. Mickey leaves school early without qualifications, and has a staggering high mountain to climb. Even with qualifications, the chances of Mickey getting into university remains slim, as he would not be able to pay the fees. Once again, Mrs. Lyons’ financial backing gives Edward something Mickey could not have.

One advantage of being poor however is being streetwise. Mickey does not have much else to do other than hang on a street corner. Mickey learns more about social life, whilst Edward is busy studying. This is shown when Edward is hanging out with Mickey on the street for the first time. Edward offers Mickey a sweet, and Mickey is immediately suspicious. Edward is simply offering a sweet to be generous, though Mickey thinks Edward might have done something to it. This is not surprising when Mickey tells Edward that ‘if [his brother] gives you a sweet he’s usually weed on it first’. A situation like that is something that Edward would have never dreamt of, because Mrs. Johnston demands he studies to get his qualifications at his private school.

Later in the twins’ lives, they both have a job in a factory. However, whilst Edward is an executive on the board of directors, Mickey is at the bottom on the production line. What makes matters worse is that Edward gave Mickey his job after he couldn’t find one because of recession. You see the outcome of this later in the play when Mickey finds out. So Edward has his own money, but he has enough to give a job to Mickey, who may not do the job that well compared to someone else.

Being rich and having a lot of money can be beneficial, having the option to accommodate others who are in need, or to make your lifestyle better to suit your own needs. Though, really, it is the decisions made by individuals, which determine if you have a good life or not. Mrs. Lyons eventually collapses psychologically; she has lived with a life full of paranoia because of her decision to force Mrs. Johnston to give her one of the twins. This sin of lies, decent and secrecy followed Mrs. Lyons through her life, making her very ill later on. Mrs. Johnston had the willpower to help her children, who were in great poverty – living in the slums, no drink, and no food. Mrs. Johnston was very happy at times. In some instances she breaks into a song about Marilyn Monroe and begins dancing, something you see rarely done by Mrs. Lyons. The question, does having money always provide a better life is not easily answered.

As well as showing us the different lives led by the rich and the poor, what other themes do you explore in the play? One of the themes I really wanted to explore was the absence of a father for both Edward and Mickey. Edward’s father, Mr. Lyons, is never at home due to business. A strategy I used to make both fathers more absent, but Mr. Lyons in particular, was to never have him on stage or speaking. When Mrs. Lyons is speaking to Mr. Lyons, we only hear her end of the conversation.

Mrs. Johnston’s husband, Mickey’s father, is absent from the beginning. The first line of Mrs. Johnston’s song says, ‘Once I had a husband’, which immediately says to the audience that Mickey’s father has deserted Mrs. Johnston before the story even started. The effects of this are that Mickey has no positive male role model for good behaviour, so he grows up boisterous and badly behaved.

Although Mrs. Lyons can provide a role model for behaviour for Edward, she can’t provide the male figure for Edward which helps him develop into a man. Because of this, Edward grows up to be a softy, and have a slightly girly personality. While there are effects due to an absent father for Edward and Mickey, there are also effects for Mrs. Lyons and Mrs. Johnston due to the absence of a husband. Mrs. Johnston does not have the financial support she longs for. If she had financial backing, she would not have been put under pressure by Mrs. Lyons, which created a chain of unfortunate events.

In contrast you have Mrs. Lyons, who has financial backing, but no emotional support. When times are tough, Mrs. Lyons chooses to phone Mr. Lyons for emotional support. In one of their telephone conversations the audience doesn’t hear Mr. Lyons speak, he ‘hangs up’. This could be because he is too busy on business, or he simply thinks that it isn’t is job to provide emotional support, but rather financial support.