The play “The Aristocrat” directed by Dennis Patrick Mulligan is an ironic, electrifying, and a funny play. My passion for the play is that it makes me see through the eyes of an upper class Irish family. The family comes from a privileged religious and political ancestry. The play is ironic because instead of the family to congregate for a wedding they stay to attend their dad’s funeral. The three sisters and their peculiar brother reveal the way in which the ache of one family becomes microsm for the ache of the society. I liked the play because of its genuine or realistic setting, scenes, and characters.
The setting of the play was genuine because it made a good effort in depicting the house of an Irish family. The play took place in summer, mid 1970’s at Balleybeg Hall, the home of District Justice O’ Donnell, overlooking the village of Balleybeg, County Donegal, Ireland. The stage is proscenium which looked like a picture frame. I felt the setting of the home was akin to a traditional Irish home. I liked the setting because it was elegant. The director made good use of the stage space because the actors and actresses had enough space to maneuver around. The setting also made me realize that the house was owned by Irish aristocrats as the title of the play implies. The stage was divided into two: a small section of the house and a garden. The first view that attracted me was the setting on stage. I liked the whole concept of the setting. In the parlor, I saw a light bluish wall paper pasted against the wall, a traditional fire place, outdated cushions, candles, an outdated telephone, and a clock on the fireplace. The furniture enhanced the setting of the Irish house. The garden on the other hand, had a gazebo at the center of the garden, garden chairs, and an imaginary tennis court. I liked the way the director used light to differentiate between the house and garden. The home had a dull, darker, and haunted feeling while the garden had a brighter look like summer time. I think the director was trying to make the audience know difference between the house and garden. If he failed to do this I would have thought the gazebo was part of the house. Also, the cross of Jesus Christ on the wall informed me that the family is Irish Catholic. The garden and the house both severed as a resting place for the characters to socialize but the major difference was that the garden was a place for the family to unite. In general, the setting was marvelous.
The play consists of the three acts. I liked the scenes because each act described to the audience what is to happen and what would happen next methodically. For example, Act I and Act II which was set early in the afternoon on a very warm summer day introduces the audience to the behaviors and characteristics of the characters on stage. The last act, Act III tells us about the various situations each character is facing and how character has to resolve their situation. The director also makes use of lighting to move from one act to another. To move from one act to another there is a sudden blackout and the next act begins. I did not like the intermission between acts because it was too long. The director should have made the intermission shorter or brief in order to prevent the audience from waiting anxiously. A light and quiet music played on the piano by Claire helped to move from one act to another. I think the music was used to warm up the audience towards what was to happen next in the play.
Lastly, the characters were exhilarating because they created their own version of dignity through denial an attribute quite common among Irish Catholics. The costumes worn by the characters were sophisticated for the women and conservative for the men. I think the costume represented the family’s wealth and also has role models for the society they represent. For example, the men were conservative found wearing a shirt and trouser with low shining black shoes while the women wore dresses, sweaters, skirts, and also low shining black shoes. Also the character performed their different function. For example, Claire is a pianist who has passion for music. Her music is used has a musical background for the stage and the beauty of the music warms up the audience. Judith is obsessed with order and routine. She also makes the audience feel sorry for her when she narrate are pathetic story on stage. For Casimir, I was irritated by his childish behavior. He is also obsessed with the fantasy world of memories for the families’ long gone memories. He also enjoys listening to his sister’s music.
The father on the other hand is physically ill. He seems to be aggressive unappreciative towards the children. He makes the audience fear him because of his sudden loud yells. Alice is the most sophisticated among the sisters. She drinks and smokes a lot. She is always found at the gazebo smoking with her legs crossed. She is always depressed and this also makes the audience depressed also. Uncle George is a sluggish and also a funny character. He is found wearing a white tuxedo and a white hat. He works in and out of stage and the only time I found him participating in the play is in the last act. For Tom Hoffnung, he is an American graduate who is researching on the “Life and Lifestyle of the Irish big house.” Through his interviews the members of the family begin to face reality and it is only then that they find true dignity. In the last act, Act III the family is dressed in black for their dad’s burial. Black portrays death. I liked the way the used color to portray the situation the characters were going through. Also, I was able to feel what the characters were feeling about the death of the dear beloved dad. For example, Judith angrily expresses are feelings to her family and to the audience about her participation in the family and how she will maintain the house by herself now that their dad had passed away.
I felt that the production of the play was a success. The play was exciting to watch also. I am happy about its production and design and also the director did a remarkable job by choosing the right characters. You did a great job director.