Too Much Punch For Judy - Mark Wheeller

This is my review of Too Much Punch For Judy, as part of my ArtsAward Silver Unit 1.

Too much punch for Judy is a play with the key genres of comedy and tragedy about two girls (Joanna and Judy) who were involved in a drink driving accident where one of them passes away.

The style of play is verbatim theatre meaning it is based on a true story, it also contains lots of physical theatre and abstract, especially during the car crash, this made a big impact as it was in slow motion. The narration with dialogue gave the audience a better grasp of how it felt to be involved in this tragic scenario and emphasizes the different characters and their emotions.

One moment where the mood was created effectively was at the night club, it was a fun, exaggerated scene - the strobe light slowed the action down and showed that they were intoxicated. The contrast of Jo saying 'OK then, you drive' immediately changes the mood and creates a huge impact as that one sentence changed her life forever. The slow-motion key throw builds up tension and creates an eerie atmosphere before the accident.

Duncan's performance is very strong and powerful in this piece. His character acts out what happened during the monologue keeping the audience engaged and interested. His emotive facial expressions and the sad tone in his voice emphasize how he is feeling and help the audience to imagine being in his situation and witnessing something so horrific. His emotions are also very mixed and you can see his thought process changing throughout the monologue, his reactions can come across as relatable as each one is different, including curious, angry, 'unnerving' and ‘shattering'.

Duncan's character also tries to stay calm and collected but the audience can see how traumatised he is underneath the cover. It is shown that he is a good person when he says that it is wrong that nothing is left of the accident to remember what happened there. He also remains eye contact with the audience the whole time making it seem like he is talking directly to them or having a conversation with them.

The set and props in this play are very important as they add to the effect of how realistic the performance seems. A chair and carpet are used in Vi's scene to show her character more and give diversity between staging. Crates are used during the performance in many ways, including during the car crash scene. Scaffolding poles are also used in this section as this is what killed Jo in the real accident, adding a slightly creepy effect. Police tape after the accident makes the audience feel as if they are looking in on the accident and pictures of the accident add emotion. All of these set/props help to convey the location and add realism. The lighting helps to focus your attention on the play and adds to the effect of being there. A blue gel on the light is used to symbolise night time and the police. A red gel is used to create an ominous mood and a sense of foreshadowing. Normal lighting during monologues help focus your attention on the actor/ actress and bright lights in the hospital indicate location and add realism. The sound also plays a big part in creating a mood, solemn music as Vi hears about the accident compared to upbeat music in the wine bar shows a real diversity in emotion. The costumes help to show the character's personality, for example a stereotypical mothers outfit for Vi and crazy outfits in the 80's style for Jo and Judy, showing us that they were fun girls - full of life. Actors wearing tops saying choose life with blood splattered on shows the underlying message that they could have made a choice to save her.

The main message of this performance is don't drink and drive which is shown by how many lives this has destroyed, not only Joanna and Judy- but their family, friends and anyone involved. We are shown each character from after the accident and how this has affected them. The realistic acting shows us that these things really do happen and makes it more believable as a true story. The flashbacks from the past life show what great lives they had and how it could never be the same again, really making the audience think. Judy asks the audience 'Would you?' making it more personal as you imagine you or your own family in the same situation. The audience are made to think the scene will be repeated the way it should've happened but we are hit with the harsh and brutal reality and they say it can't be changed and we can't go back. Joanna will never live again, and Judy will live with constant guilt. A simple decision to get a taxi or not even go out at all could've changed their lives forever, but now - it's too late.

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Ella Taylor-Kahr

Ella Taylor-Kahr

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