Module B The Shoe- Horn Sonata
“The Shoe- Horn Sonata” is a play by John Misto that gives an insight into two lives of two female POWs in WW II and is a vector of Misto’s thoughts. It explores the little known and often terrible events associated with female prisoners of war. The play follows a friendship of two women through the war to a point of tension that’s beyond what any normal friendship would have to deal with. Misto engages his audience by using a multitude of mediums to portray his story creating a truly multimedia performance. The playwright challenges the audience to look beyond this to the underlying ideas of survival, loyalty and truth. ***
The play opens with a scene almost as dramatic as the characters, introducing Bridie. She stands on a spotlight demonstrating the “Kow Tow” bow for respect in the centre of the stage then “claps her hands sternly”, immediately revealing the strong assertive nature of her character. The audiences become intrigued, and listen as she straightens difficulty from the Kow Tow, showing she is forceful and feisty but not young. As the “On Air” sign becomes visible the audiences realize she is being interviewed as she informs her audience she had enlisted in WW II following her dad’s footsteps. She tells her audience that her father gave her a Shoe-horn and two pieces of advice, “Don’t sit on a toilet seat until you have lined it with toilet paper” and “Never kiss a Pommie on the lips”.
A marching song “Fall in Brother” was heard as images became visible on the screen of “Women Disembarking Singapore”. Misto created a dramatic atmosphere that captured the audience’s attention right through the introduction.
The second scene appeared to be in the motel room where Bridie’s Friend Sheila is introduced. This scene was in the Motel Room, which was used several times in the play being a place where private revelation and growing tension between Bridie and Sheila took place. Tension between the two took place immediately in scene two as, “Bridie and Sheila stop in the doorway. There is slight but obvious tension between them”, Silence and body language were used by the two characters to create such tension towards the audiences as it is a emotion which no words can cater for or adequately express. This aroused a high sense of drama as the surprising intensity between them is evident as there is silence as they then count in Japanese together; “Ya-Ta” was called out by them as they grabbed the suitcase onto the bed which sounded like a war cry as a Blackout followed.
The play shows a dramatic irony as the audience’s seem to grab clues about the women leading them towards a direction knowing more the actual interviewer as the audiences seem to wonder why Bridie and Sheila lost contact for such a long time as suspense builds up on the audience’s answers. As the recollections of their past takes place the ladies strengths and resilience are revealed. Sheila’s tone seemed to be ‘tense’ as she spoke with, “Short, Sharp Accents”,
Revealing her character, that has something unfinished in the past. This is evident when Rick, the interviewer takes the interview to a deeper level asking, “Did the Japs. Ever try to take advantage of you?” Sheila becomes nervous, not wanting Bridie to realize.
Rick’s role plays an important part as he is unseen and acts as a vehicle for direction of public recollection. Rick’s purpose was to prompt the interview and give the women a purpose to retell their story. He pushes the conversation to places both Bridie and Sheila don’t want to talk about. However it is necessary if their past is to be revealed and adequately resolved. Rick’s questions have them arguing about the women who did sleep with the Japanese men as Sheila supported them saying, “They had no choice”,
As some had starving children as Bridie strongly opposes,
“To sleep with a...