Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A TALK IN THE PARK - Alan Ayckbourn

Summary and criticism:-
The one-act play "A TALK IN THE PARK(1976) is a light comedy written by Alan Ayckbourn,a famous British playwright. This play belongs to CONFUSIONS, a set of five loosely-connected one-act plays. The present play deals with the failure of human communication and obsession as well as isolation.
At the beginning of the play, there are four strangers staying on separate benches in a park. They   have their own troubles. Arthur, a bird like man with an interest in cigarette card collecting and women-watching comes and  sits next to Beryl, a young girl  and starts to relate his story of his likes and dislikes. Beryl is not interested in his talk. She is quite disturbed by him, so she moves from theg current bench and goes to sit with Charles, a businessman like man.  
   Beryl is a young woman with a husband who beats her, and so she tells Charles this story and reads out a letter from the "bastard". Charles becomes quite sick of hearing this, so excuses himself and goes to sit next to man-hating dog-loving Doreen. Charles is an old business man on the verge of bankruptcy and so has no time for the youth of today. He remembers a happier time with his wife and children and asks Doreen to help him decipher his business report. Doreen is at this time afraid of the man and goes to sit next to Ernest who is happily  relaxing on his bench.   
   Ernest is highly disturbed by the paranoid woman who starts to harp on about her dog. Doreen relates the story of taking her dog to the vets to get the snip, which is not a topic Ernest is interested in so he sneaks off leaving Doreen talking to herself. Ernest then collapses on the bench where Arthur is and proceeds in taking it over whilst moaning about his wife. The scene ends with each character trying to get the attention of the person they were trying to talk to, but failing. The end result is five miserable people who are all feeling ignored, despite the fact that it is their own fault for ignoring everyone else. Each of them wants to talk, but is not willing to listen.

An Interpretation:- If you take a look at conversations of people no matter where, when or who is talking, you will soon find out that people like to talk about themselves, their problems and everything that is related to them in some way. They want you to listen, make a short comment, and then listen again. But on the other side they are not able to act according to their own expectations. This behavior is pointed out by Alan Ayckbourn in his play "A Talk in the Park". There are five people sitting in a park, one starts speaking to another person who is not willing to listen and therefore goes to a third person with the intention to talk to him. He does not want to listen either, goes to the next one and so on. Each of them wants to talk, but is not willing to listen. This behavior seems quite common, but why are people unable to listen? Speculations about not having time anymore, being egoistic and not interested in others certainly have a true aspect, but I think they are not the complete answer to that problem. I could imagine that society is responsible for our behaviour: If you want to fit in society today, lots of things are required from you. First you need to be informed about thousand of things. To get this knowledge you need to listen. To grow up in a good way you must listen to the advice of your parents. To be successful in school you must listen to your teachers, 13 years, about 30 hours a week. To manage your job you must listen to your boss, your colleagues, your customers. In conversations you are expected to have certain information, which you often get by listening to the news, reading books etc. etc. In all you could say, if you want to live in our society you will need to listen all the time. Therefore it is totally understandable that at some point, especially during your spare time, you just do not want to listen anymore. Instead you need to talk about yourself, your problems, your experiences; and I also think this behaviour is justified as long as -at some point- you are able to listen again

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