Oh, What a Lovely War
Firstly I can see from the beginning of the play Joan Littlewood was trying to create a relaxed audience with singalong songs and the clowns or pierrots to create a funny and entertaining atmosphere this was done by an M.C coming out and telling jokes and generally making the audience feel comfortable and relaxed this has a very good effect on the audience because this brings out the entertainment side of the war and tells the audience that it e\wasn’t just all guns blazing.
The songs are very good in the plot of the play because they tell a very good story in their selves. Like for example the first song in the play it is called “Row, Row, Row” and this song represents the starting of the war and it is as if all the people are just getting in their boats and have started rowing across the sea for battle. You get the feeling that this war is going to be a very long and boring time for a lot of people. If you took all the songs in the play and lined them up on the floor then you would very easily be able to put them in a very continuous order.
As we then move on in the play the reality of the play starts to slowly creep in. The soldiers start talking and the newpannels start becoming more and more sinister and the tension builds. As the tension starts to build so does the audiences involvement in the play. We move on and slides of the play start appearing on the screen. The slides show people recruiting for the war and I think this is meant to make people more aware of the facts of war and for the people of that time to be motivated to go and enlist. As the slides move on further we see schoolboys marching with rifles and this is meant to bring home the loss of the start of the war! The slideshow ends with a picture of Lord Kitchen pointing on a poster saying ‘ Your country needs you!’
The play takes a different turn after this and just a bit further in the play we see the more personal side of the war. This is my favourite part of the play because I feel this has the most impact because it shows the real side of the play and shows what the people at war were really thinking. Although this seems like a little aspect of the play in reality every single person in the war was thinking about their families and every day for them, was hell. This is the part where we see the higher ranked people in the war like the officers personal feelings and he is just writing a letter home to his family but we see in this section of the play that everyone is human and no matter who you are and what you do everyone needs a family to go home to.
We then moved back to the music hall theme and this relaxes the audience again after a very emotional part of the play this makes them aware of the play and breaks the tension a lot for them. I think this works well because it makes the audience feel better again like at the beginning of the play and brings back the home side of the war.
We then see the slides again and these slides are very powerful because they are slides of advertisements I think they are here because they are bringing in the home side of the war and this is trying to bring about the markets back home and they are advertising pills if you are “Run Down” suggesting that there are many people back home who are driving there selves insane back home thinking of there loved ones.
The play then goes back to being very military and we hear the soldiers talking about war and what it was like in the trenches. There is a very powerful scene about all the soldiers in the trenches talking about what they are going to do and when they think the war is going to end or if it even will at all. They make jokes to each other and they are just generally trying to keep each other’s morals up high. The next scene is very influential in the play because it is the section where the English soldiers hear the German soldiers singing and they start talking over the trenches and they eventually meet in the middle for Christmas day.
The ends of Act One is very significant because it ends with a song of ” Good bye e e e e” which shows the attitude of the soldiers and all they want to do is say goodbye and go home. The Second Act shows the political side of the play and it shows the sergeants and the home side of the war.
Early on in the Second Act we see the sergeants dancing the waltz and they do this and as they do this they make decisions, which prove costly later on. They make decisions like placing the Irish armies in the other side of the British trench. In doing this without the British side knowing, they just kill everyone of the Irish army, so in a rash decision by sergeants while doing the waltz we see total destruction of lives.
We see cut scenes in the early parts of the second half as the different countries start to bicker and make stupid arguments and as always America have to be the one who are the best and make all the decisions in this particular scene they are discussing a lot of things with all aspects of the war in mind. They talk about when they think the war will end and what they think will happen if the Germans win the war and what everyone’s reaction would be to the defeat. As well as this they are talking about how much munitions each country is putting into the war and they are arguing who has most and saying that there country is the best.
Towards the end of the play we see the slides come back and we see the pictures of soldiers being hurt and pictures of Tommies going off and images of death and injury. Everyone is covered in bandages and is covering their wounds. This is very good because we actually see the total devastation of war and the audience see for the first time the images of death and wounds and the realism of the war this I think has the most impact in the whole of the war because the last image we see is of a dead soldier lying dead in a silt trench.
We then see the slides again after a few scenes of soldiers talk on the slides we see another batch of wounded soldiers and everyone dead laying in trenches with nothing anyone could do about it. This is very good because the audience would have now got used to seeing these sorts of pictures, which isn’t a good thing at all.
This is where a very dominant figure called General Haig he is a very different character and he has a lot of similarities between him and Hitler which suggests the position that this man is in. Haig walks around making decision that he has no clue about and this can be very effective in the scenes to come because he is just a rich man who has got the job of a General because of his wealthy position that he is in. He makes decisions that will result in a massive loss of life and when questions on the subject of death he says that a few men’s death may win the war which sums up the sort of character he is.