I am going to write about two characters which I found very interesting when I saw the play Journeys End in the New Ambassador’s Theatre in London. Journeys End is set in a dugout in the early First World War. It is an ensemble piece and contains lots of indirect action. It is an extremely naturalistic play, due to it being written from first hand experience. It contains aspects of ordinary English life back then. One of the two men is Michael Siberry, who played the knowledgeable Osborne a lieutenant who was treated with respect in the production. I am also going to write about Ben Righton, who played the brave and important part of Stanhope, the leader and captain of the men.
Michael Siberry played the important part of Osborne in Journeys End. He played a protective and sensitive part as second in command to Stanhope, who he looks after and defends. He is much more sophisticated and civilised with very manly behaviour. He is older, wiser and polite officer and is a true Englishman. Siberry brings a strong sense of authority, although he is only second in command. His age and tone of voice show he is very wise and clever.
When he ends up in a conversation about Stanhope and his drinking problems, he was able to change the conversation with a slow calm vocal tone, instead of talking or maybe shouting with aggression and power and ends up saying calmly “I’d go to hell and back for him”, in defence of Stanhope. When Raleigh arrives, Siberry made a gentle and kind approach, similar to a schoolteacher. He did this by making him welcome, drawing out chairs for Raleigh to sit down and told him about what his life would now be like living in the trenches. He made eye contact, to show that he was not afraid, or shy to talk to Raleigh. Throughout this sequence, Siberry would smile and look directly at Raleigh to give a sense of re-assurance and tenderness.
During the scene before Siberry was to go out on his mission, which he was obviously dreading, he showed great dignity without complaint. His short solo where he prepares for the mission is extremely moving. He takes his belongings such as his pipe out of his pocket and places them slowly onto the table. He used the time incredibly, as he was able to have silence among the stage so he could be lost in his thoughts, staring into the audience before leaving. This happens again when Stanhope orders him to read aloud Raleigh’s letters. He lowered his eyes and spoke softly to show that he disagreed with Stanhope, but still did not want to disobey orders. Siberry was also able to calm Stanhope down by using and reacting kindly and using appropriate vocal tones.
Ben Righton played Stanhope in Journeys End. Although the play is not actually based around one character, the play very much revolves around Stanhope. The role of Stanhope is a challenging and complex one and Ben Righton played it with passion, a man torn between his important role as a commander and his inner cowardly self. The anxiety builds up to awkward and gripping moments with Raleigh, his childhood friend.
Righton brought a quality of helplessness to the role. He used nervous and quick and tight vocal tones. He used a softer tone of voice when speaking to Osborne, as he was speaking to someone much wiser than himself. However when speaking to his men he would use a harsher and louder and more commanding tone of voice. Righton showed the effects of alcoholism very well by using shaky hands, physical weakness and appeared to be constantly tired. Righton contrasted his softness with his brutal qualities. His helplessness was shown through impulsive and jerky movements and Righton would add in sudden flare-ups. When communicating to his peers, he would rock back on his chair, facing away from the table and avoid eye contact.
Righton was able to create paranoia in Stanhope extremely well. He showed this through scenes such as the cold scene where he shouts at Raleigh. Righton shows Stanhope as a man who has lost sense due to the horrors of war. He portrays Stanhope to have mental decay with an agitated high-pitched voice and jerky movements. Although Righton was able to show the mental decay of Stanhope, he was also able to show the character’s duty and conflict. He used a strong vocal tone with commanding postures and gestures. The scene with Hibbert was valuable and was well timed. He used long pauses to think, and leave Hibbert in horror. It showed that although he was a leader he was also honest and open about himself.