Body language is an important part in any production because it can help communicate the tone to the audience. In the UMF production of The Bald Soprano, it was used to maintain a level of pseudo-serious comedy. UMF students put on the play with a clear comedic angle, which was enhanced by the kinds of body language used.
The first moment where body language stood out to me was the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Martin. It is not noted in the written play, but on stage, the actors mimicked the body language of each other. For example, when Mr. Martin said a line and took a step forward, Mrs. Martin would say her line and take a step forward as well. They acted as mirrors of each other, which was an interesting addition to their complicated relationship. It is also a great use of body language to further exaggerate that they are essentially copying what the other says as well.
Watching carefully, I noticed that there was a place where the exact mirroring broke off, which makes sense in the context of what they were saying. All along, everything had been the same. They were in the same train car, from the same town, and lived in the same place. When they started talking about the child, Alice, things began to differentiate. Mr. Martin pointed at Mrs. Martin, but then she only proceeded to hold her arm out, etc. This was a subtle indication through body language that things were not truly the same, as Mary points out. They do not have the same daughter and are not who they each think they are. It’s amazing that the actors were able to indicate these differences on such a minute level.
While no other particular instance of body language displayed such critical information as this, there were other moments that were used to their advantage. Mrs. Smith seems like a drab character on paper, and even at the beginning of the UMF production. She, like the rest of the characters, talk about nothing of importance. However, when she opens the door to her home when the doorbell rings, she does so in such a dramatic way. She continues to have slightly over exaggerated body motions, especially after the Fire Chief enters. This use of body language displays how her character is secretly craving drama and attention that neither her husband nor lifestyle can give her.
The Fire Chief himself also used body language to his advantage. The actor onstage made the character come to life as he walked around like he owned the place. The Fire Chief came off as very confident and as someone who uses the knowledge of their attractive qualities to their advantage. When he interacted with Mary on the table in the front, he was clearly very attracted to her in an exaggerated way. The fact that Mary acted slightly surprised when the Fire Chief touches her created an awkward kind of comedy that was nonetheless successful.
The Bald Soprano reads as a confusing, boring play on paper, but can truly come to life when acted out onstage. The use of body language throughout the production lent to both its comedy and my personal understanding of the play.