The Shoe Horn Sonata
By John Misto
The scene from The Shoe Horn Sonata I chose was act 1, scene 1. The Play begins on a dark silent set, which evokes in the audience the darkness and pain of the characters memories as well as suggesting their stores have been hidden for too long. Out of the darkness with come truth. The play in scene 1 begins with an army nurse that is being interviewed for a documentary program about her experiences as a prisoner of the Japanese. Misto cleverly uses interviews and discussions between Bridie and Sheila throughout the play to develop the plot by revealing to the audience the events in the women’s past. The Opening Scene, with Bridie demonstrating the deep tone/imagery as to the first word ‘Darkness’ , subservient bow, thekow-tow, demanded of the prisoners by their Japanese guards during the war period. It takes the audience straight into the action. The time is now, and Bridie is being asked to recall the events of fifty years earlier.
As the first scene progresses we learn a little of Bridie’s character- she is self-assured and forthright, and displays a sardonic sense of humour as she reveals her own situation and that of the women who were evacuated during the fall of Singapore. We are introduced to the shoehorn, given to her by her father as she was about to be posted overseas, and we gain an insight into the arrogance and ill preparedness of the British colonial powers in the face of the approaching Japanese. The dominant motif throughout the play is that of the shoe-horn itself. We first hear of it at the beginning of the play, when Bridie speaks fondly of it as a gift from her father before she went overseas as an army nurse as “he gave me a present – a shoe-horn of all things!” Here it represents for her the joys of home and family, a reminiscence of happiness- of life before the horrors of war. As the play progress its symbolism changes. When Bridie drifted in the sea after their ships have been...
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