The Awkward Amusement of The Bald Soprano

Eugene Ionesco’s “The Bald Soprano” is just as bizarre to watch as it is to read. However, even though the play retains its oddness factor when moved from the page onto the stage, the experience of seeing it performed is much different from the experience of reading the script. This most likely comes from the added visual aspect of viewing the play, and seeing how the actors choose to move and utilize the space on stage.

One of the most prominent scenes in which this is exemplified is the initial conversation between Mr. and Mrs. Martin, when the couple are trying to figure out where they’ve seen each other before. While the monotonous voices are similar to what is seen in the script, it appears very different on the stage. For example, in this production there was a lot more movement between the two actors than what was mentioned in the script. The couple’s movements often mirrored each other, and this highlighted the many repetitive lines in the conversation. The action made the discussion more interesting to watch as well, and captured the audience’s attention. The identical movements of the characters combined with their blank expressions and mechanical way of speaking highlighted the absurdity of the situation, often eliciting laughter from the viewers.

The comedic aspects of this scene did not end there. Towards the end of the conversation, Mr. and Mrs. Martin kneel on the arms of the couch, reach towards each other, and collapse dramatically down onto the sofa. These actions were not a part of the script, but they were quite entertaining to watch. The two remained laying awkwardly on the couch for the 29 chimes, and the length served to make the audience feel rather uncomfortable after their amusement at the preceding activities. This mix of mirth and discomfort was quite a common occurrence while viewing the play, whereas while reading the script often highlighted feelings of confusion instead.

Another part of the play that was both funny and uncomfortable was the interactions between the Fire Chief and Mary, the maid. While in the script it just states that Mary throws herself at the Fire Chief, it was much more awkward and prolonged in the play. The discomfort of the other characters is shared by the audience, with the added embarrassed amusement on the part of the viewers. The hilarity is increased with the dramatic gestures that accompany the recitation of “The Fire” poem, culminating with the maid being carried off stage by Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

The awkwardly comedic tone of this play persists through to the end, which consists of the Smiths and the Martins running around screaming nonsense at each other. While this was just plain bizarre to read in the script, watching the characters move around the stage while yelling weird phrases at each other was much more entertaining. The audience was clearly confused about what was going on, but still seemed to find the spectacle rather funny.

In all of the above instances, the actions and movements of the actors added something to the viewing experience that was not present when simply reading the script. The way that the actors moved and spoke added a much more amusing note to the play, causing it to be entertaining as well as baffling.

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