The Secret River Play Analysis

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The Queensland Theatre Company’s famous Australian contemporary piece The Secret River was written by Andrew Bovell and directed by Neil Armfield. Adapted from the book, it can be viewed as a Gothic theatre piece through its use of conventions, setting and themes. The play follows the moral dilemma of the main character William Thornhill. Exemplifying the difficult adaption for both the European settlers and the aboriginal land owners. As both sides thought they were right, their actions justified, leading to a fight over land and ending with a massacre of the Indigenous people (played by Ningali Lawford). The actors and director produced a performance which successfully manipulated the dramatic elements of role and relationship, tension and …show more content…
Piper effectively manipulated role and relationship through the use of movement and voice. It was clearly perceived on stage that Smasher Sullivan 's status was always higher than everyone else’s. This was revealed through the way Sal (played by Georgia Adamson) didn’t dare talk over smasher, his voice loud and firm with an obnoxious tone. As well, his status was expressed through the use of levels. On set Smasher was always above everyone, looking down on them combining with strong positioning on stage demonstrating his powerful authority and influence over others. The posture of Smasher was very open with his shoulders drawn back and his head slightly tilted upwards which showed his confidence, establishing his attitude in the play. Additionally, as his purpose was to push the whites to get rid of the indigenous people, Smashers’ attitude towards other characters was rude and arrogant, displayed via the actor’s use of snarly facial expressions as well as his use of sarcasm and an undertone of seriousness. Smasher could also be viewed as slightly crazy through gestures such as, shaking his hands by his head while chanting. As a result of this he only had one very minimal friendship which was with William Thornhill. This relationship was guarded as William could sense the evil within Smasher and knew he would aggravate situation. This was shown through the way William was standoffish towards Smasher …show more content…
In this key scene, the dramatic element of tension was first created when William timidly walked onto stage with an unsure look. Through vivid music the tension of mystery was gradually built, as William swiftly started walking confidently over to Sal with a panicked face. As he maintained eye contact with her, he walked directly to her before suddenly becoming distant. This symbolised there spatial relationship being unsure leaving the audience knowing that something not quite right was happening between them and brought out the tension of relationship. At this point, the pace slowed down and everything went into a silent pause forming the height of the climax, as the audience was left uncertain what was going to happen. William started to speak to Sal in a calm soft tone to keep her relaxed and ease the tension. However, the tension climaxed when her mood drastically changed. Her hyped reaction started the fight with elevated vocals, angry looking facials and aggressive gestures towards each other. Finally, the fight was resolved as things became quiet and William and Sal turned around and speedily walked in opposite directions concluding the fight. This was the first part of the play where you see the dark side of William through his duality towards Sal. While in previous

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