From “A Small Family Business” a play in which people work together as a team, united to reach to the same goal and sharing values, the author Alan Ayckbourn exposes atmospheres of humorous situations to cut with tension and make the scene weird and funny at the same time. Various comic resources are used in this first scene where Jack is coming back from work and his wife, Poppy, waits for him with a great welcome surprise where family and friends are gathering together too. He makes use of ironic situations, sarcasm, visual and black humor, dramatic and embarrassing situations also, to make up this scene a humorous scene.
The first situation of humor in this scene is between the dialogue of Yvonne and Ken: Yvonne: “Jack is here, Mr Ayres. He has just arrives” Ken: “Jack who? ” Ayckbourn is using black humor in this situation as a comic resource. We can interpret this because it’s obvious of which “Jack” Yvonne is talking about, and Ken is trying to call the attention asking what Jack, Yvonne is talking about. Ken knows the answer, but he makes the situation funny by asking that question, and as an objective he wants to cut with the tension they were all passing through while they were hidden in the dark silence.
As another comic resource, we can stand out the visual humor, because of the ridiculous situation of when Poppy moves into the kitchen, and pretends to be busy herself at the sink so that Jack doesn’t suspect anything out of the ordinary when he sees her, while on the next room, the whole family is hidden in the dark and giggling for silence. Everyone knows from where Jack is going to arrive, and in which moment, but Jack doesn’t have a clue of what’s going on. Here, the author makes use of visual humor because of the actions that the characters are making; they make quite a comic scene.
Sarcasm is also state in this scene when Jack refers to the Fond farewells: “Cheering me through the gates, they were. Goodbye, you old bugger, goodbye” The author is making this phrase sarcastic because in a way, Jack is exaggerating the situation and he knows it was not really like that. He is in a way, telling Poppy that they wanted to get rid of him and he is making them seem like bad persons, when they didn’t really said or done something wrong to him. We can also see an atmosphere of humor, when Jack says to Poppy “thanks god for that.
I don’t want to see anyone else. Not today”. Here, a dramatic irony is used as a comic resource because the reader understands the whole funny situation of the family hearing this dialogue hidden in the same house, but the character who in this case is Jack, does not. Also irony, because again, Jack uses exaggeration, disparity of expression and says something he doesn’t really mean. In this first scene, Ayckbourn has also made moments of embarrassing situations. Poppy: “Oh God, I want to die. I really want to die”
Here Poppy is very embarrassed because she knew the whole family was listening to her dialogue with Jack, who was quite intimate and she doesn’t know how to fix it. This also makes the situation humorous because the character actions are seen as embarrassing by the audience because they know the consequences. As a conclusion, Alan Ayckbourn does use of many comic resources to break with the tension, the nervousness, and to give a funny atmosphere to the scene which is a bit anxious, at first, and uncomfortable at the end not only for Poppy but with the family also.
Courtney from Study Moose
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