Thursday, October 20, 2011

Discuss Rosenthal’s use of minor characters in P’tang Yang Kipperbang

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Discuss Rosenthal’s use of minor characters in P’tang Yang Kipperbang

P’tang Yang Kipperbang is a TV Play about the ups and downs of adolescence. It focuses mainly upon the life of Alan Duckworth and how he deals with his current problems and problems that he may encounter in his future life. However, throughout the play we are introduced to numerous other characters that reflect and contrast Alan’s (Quack Quack’s) life. Examples of theses characters are Shaz and Abbo, Alan’s best friends. These contrast and compare upon Alan and his life. Rosenthal does this by making them seem the total opposite of Alan i.e. confident and a lot more sexually experienced. When really Shaz and Abbo are both as pathetic as Alan, if not more pathetic. This is because they always lie about things that they say they have done. Another way in which Alan compares and contrasts with Shaz and Abbo is that Alan appears to be a normal teenager who talks to his friends about girls activities with the girl that he likes he just wants to kiss her. However he says that he does want to do all the ‘other things’ because his mates pressure him to say it. Shaz and Abbo emphasise not just Alan’s problems but problems that all adolescents face in general.

Ann Lawton is Alan’s High school sweet heart, and he will do anything just to kiss her once. But as always there is someone, or something as the case may be standing in his way. Geoffrey Whittaker is the girl’s favourite boy, especially Ann Lawton’s, and it is for this reason that Geoffrey and Alan are enemies. Geoffrey also intensifies Alan’s problem. Nevertheless, where there is a will there’s a way, and Alan’s big chance comes when he gets volunteered to be a star in the school play, and luckily for him one of his parts is that he has to kiss a girl on the lips. This girl just so happens to be Ann Lawton. And Alan believes that this is thanks to God who he prayed to the previous night to let something like this happen, “You don’t half work in mysterious ways.” Alan Duckworth uses God as a confidant, which basically means that Alan can say a monologue but it seems like he’s talking to someone. It is a dramatic device that Rosenthal uses to avoid a soliloquy. Alan also uses the school’s groundskeeper Tommy as a confidant. He tells Tommy all of his troubles and thoughts and Tommy usually responds sensibly but occasionally is sidetracked by troubles of his own. For example; at one point in the play when Alan is telling Tommy about his dilemma with girls, Tommy says “girls like it too you know, some of them bloody love it.” And the audience can tell from this that Tommy is talking from experience.

Tommy is actually talking about his current relationship with Alan’s teacher at school, Miss Land. This relationship runs as a parallel plot to Alan and Ann’s story; it shows that life and love gets no easier after adolescence and that the same boundaries get in the way like status. Tommy and Miss Land’s relationship is purely sexual; we know this because Tommy calls Estelle ‘Miss Land’ which not only shows that they don’t know each other very well, but it also shows that she has a higher status than Tommy, and in those days status was very important. Ann also has a higher status than Alan. We know this because Ann lives in an expensive house, where as Alan lives in a cheap housing estate. This is another factor that makes Alan more depressed, because it proves even more, that Ann is out of Alan’s league.

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Another important minor character in the play is the voice of cricket commentator, John Arlott. He acts as a chorus and comments upon Alan’s predicaments; he is like Alan’s thoughts or ‘mind-monologue’. The fact that Alan’s mind’s voice is a Cricket commentator tells the audience a lot about Alan and what he focuses his life upon. For example when Alan thinks that his life is going well like when he gets to kiss Ann the commentary is good and the players are scoring lots of points but in contrast to that when Alan is feeling sad, the cricketers are not scoring and are doing really badly. This technique also fills up a lot of space in the play like when Alan is walking he will pretend that he is playing for England cricket team and that he is playing the current test match. This proves that Alan bases his life upon the game of cricket, and that Ann isn’t all that he thinks about. I personally believe that Rosenthal has found a very effective way of putting forward Alan’s thoughts.

A key line in P’tang Yang Kipperbang is when John Arlott is commentating after Alan has just kissed Ann, and he says “he went the wicket a boy, and came back a man.” This line sums up the entire play. It describes Alan’s ups and down in one line.

Alan and his friends all have a certain method of showing that they are all in the same circle of friends. They have a saying or motto that they say to each other. “P’tang Yang Kipperbang”. It is the title of the play which makes the audience thinks that this saying is what the entire play is going to be about, but it’s not. There are no hints dropped anywhere in the play about what “P’tang Yang Kipperbang” means; however they always seem to say it instead of saying “hello” or “goodbye”. Geoffrey Whittaker also has an unusual way of talking that he considers ‘cool’. Whenever he and Ann depart they say “Mañana. Mañana is not soon enough for me.” Mañana is Spanish for tomorrow. And when Alan tries to say “P’tang Yang Kipperbang” to Geoffrey he laughs and say,” I don’t do P’tang Yang Kipperbang!” This is because he thinks that he is better than Alan and his friends and that he’s not that childish. However I believe that “Mañana” is as childish as “P’tang Yang Kipperbang” if not more. That is an example of humour that Rosenthal has put in. Rosenthal uses a lot of humour whenever “P’tang yang Kipperbang” is the subject. Another example of this is when Geoffrey tries to say ”mañana” to Ann but she just ignores him. This was my favourite bit in the play because it shows that Alan has finally beaten Geoffrey and that he’s no better than Alan because he says ”mañana is not soon enough for me”, to himself.

The road menders play a key role in commenting upon Alan’s life. They act as a conceptual chorus pointing out, not only the problems that Alan faces, but the problems that everyone on the earth faces. They do this symbolically like when they say,”he’ll be shaving next.” They say this because they know that Alan is growing up. The strange thing is that they know exactly what’s going on in Alan’s life even though they have never spoken to each other. I believe that the road menders are Rosenthal’s voice and that this is how he’s expressing his opinions about life in the play.

The way that Rosenthal portrays adolescence in this play is very similar to the way that he portrays adulthood. He believes that they are both very difficult to live through and he shows this using many different dramatic techniques.

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