The two plays that I have chosen to compare are “Road” by Jim Cartwright and “Can you keep a secret” by Winsome Pinnock. “Road” had its theatrical debut in 1986, at the Royal Court Theatre in London, and was later adapted by the BBC to a film in 1987. “Can you keep a secret” was written in 1993 and was one of the many successful plays written by Winsome Pinnock. “Road” is a play that scopes into the lives of a number of people living down the same run-down, poverty stricken road.
By use of a narrator, Scullery, we are introduced to all the main characters in the road and given a brief insight to their tragic and almost pathetic lives and pastimes, which mainly revolve around drink, drugs and sex. “Can you keep a secret” is a play about the after affects of a racist killing, particularly on a teenage girl who has to face up to a moral dilemma, whether to tell the truth or keep quiet for her boyfriend who is the murderer.
The main theme that both plays have in common is the idea of loss of identity.
In “Road” we see the loss of identity, people not knowing why they exist, not fighting for a better life or being who they want to be or once were. “Long ago I gived up the idea of making a book, and instead, now I just give ’em out to people for the price of a pint or chips… ” Here we have the Professor, (not a real one) whilst he introduces himself to the audience.
We can see by his tone of voice and comment about his life that he is not the ambitious type, has given up on life and just takes what is given to him in terms of luck. A lot of the characters in “Road” have similar attitudes.
“Can you keep a secret” talks about identity in a slightly different way. It demonstrates what many teenagers experience when growing up and learning what to do and what not to do. Teenagers are often faced with confusion about identity, particularly their own. This play demonstrates this, with many of the characters knowing inside them that something is wrong but not having the courage to face up to it. Letting others cloud their judgement. ” We’re like Siamese twins. If one gets hurt the others feel it. ” Here one of the boys, Chunky, insisting on his loyalty to Sean after he just killed Derek.
This sort of attitude, when concerning something as serious as a murder is very naive but is a common problem within teenage problems. The other themes in “Road” include depression, dis-satisfaction with ones life and existentialism. The idea of having a negative, and almost bitter view on life and being led to believe that life doesn’t get any better or worse. “Fucking long life in’it. ” This phrase is repeated throughout the play by different characters at the end of their scene directly to the audience, emphasising their attitude towards life.
“Can you keep a secret” deals with other themes such as mateship and loyalty, racism and pier pressure. The ways in which the themes and story lines are put across in each play are very different. “Road”, rather then using a traditional beginning, middle and end structure it uses an episodic structure to demonstrate the themes of the play rather then a story line and subplot. Each character in “Road” has their own story to tell and they are briefly touched on throughout the whole play by use of lengthy, personal and emotive monologues and character to character dialogue. “… But all I did was go down.
I lost my wife, me family, half me stomach, everything… ” The professors monologue describes his life and struggles. “Can you keep a secret” however has a more conventional structure, and has more dialogue between characters to tell the story compared to “Road”. The whole script is interaction between characters to tell the story. You do not learn as much about the characters in “Can you keep a secret” as you do in “Road” as “Road” is based upon deeper analysis of characters and their lives by monologues and the characters talking directly to the audience and opening up to the audience.
“See how easy you can slip when you’re a scientist in the slums. ” Professor, talking about his life, almost ashamed of his experiences. In “Can you keep a secret” there is no interaction with the audience and the audience are ‘distanced’ from the characters and story. Whereas with “Road” the play ‘breaks the 4th wall” and the characters get fully involved with the audience on and off stage and talk direct to the audience in character. Which allows the audience to get a deeper understanding of each character.