Explore the ways in which Russell makes Scene one a dramatic and effective opening
The first scene of a play needs to entertain to engage, the audience from the start and as this play is a two hander, Russell needed to capture the audience’s attention instantly. The first scene of the play introduces the one setting: a university in Liverpool, and the two characters, Frank and Rita. All the information we receive is given through the stage directions or through the characters’ dialogue, as there is no narrator or minor characters to fill in. The first scene sets the tone, with the use of comedy in stage directions,
“… Pulls out a pile of books to reveal a bottle of whisky,”
As well as through the characters language.
The play opens dramatically as we see Frank, an educated, middle class, alcoholic , searching through his bookshelf hurriedly replacing books before moving on to the next section. “’E’,’e’ ‘e’… (Suddenly he remembers) Dickens” “Jubilantly he moves to the Dickens section and pulls out a pile of books to reveal a bottle of whisky.”
This is humorous as you wouldn’t expect this from a university lecturer.
“The telephone rings…” This is a dramatic device use by Russell to help the audience get a bit of information about Frank. In the conversation Franks partner Julia asks if he is coming home for tea, showing that Julia cares for Frank, but Frank has to stay late for the Open University student Rita. But instead of saying it nicely and in a caring tone, he uses sarcasm showing his lack of respect. This conversation shows that Frank is a disrespectful, ignorant, self centered man with a drinking problem,
“Yes I suppose I did take it on to pay for the drink…”
The audience wouldn’t expect this from a university lecturer, so this would shock the audience as they would expect high standards from a middle class man. He is unappreciative of Julia even though she has prepared dinner for him:
“Yes, that’s it, you just pop off and put your head in.