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By M. K. MacMurraugh-Kavanagh (auth.)

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Additional info for Peter Shaffer Theatre and Drama

Sample text

31 stand-offish? Well which? What? DYSART: Which was she? ] Did you take her out? Come on now: tell me. Did you have a date with her? ALAN: What? DYSART [sitting]: Tell me if you did. ] ALAN [yelling]: TELL ME! ] 37 DYSART: ALAN: The audience here is effectively identifying with Dysart since it is equally eager to discover the explanation for Alan's crime: we too analyse the boy's responses, and react to the increasing pace of this exchange by demanding yet more pace as the tension mounts towards an inevitable explosion of some kind.

And while performative elements may seem to insist on a consistent awareness of the fictional frame, it remains true that most audiences quickly acclimatize to the 'theatricality' of Shaffer's staging and, by the end of the play, fully accept the alternative mode of reality that has been created throughout the performance. Finally, Shaffer's narrators are more than simply guiding or explanatory 'Of the Theatre Theatrical' 29 devices as they are in Brecht's theatre; Old Martin, Dysart, Salieri and Yonadab not only unify and comment on each episode, they also condition our intuitive responses to them through their participation in them.

IS Music, in other words, organizes the play thematically, emotionally and structurally just as it will later do in Amadeus. The Private Ear in addition displays a range of devices which will again be developed in the later dramas, the 'freezing' of characters, disrupting the internal logic of time and space, being one of them. In a related strategy, the speeded up chatter of the dinner party echoing round the theatre on tape allows the audience to penetrate Bob's subjective perception since he receives the conversation only as meaningless babble while time moves at an irrational pace in imitation of the noise.

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