Analysis of The Idiot Colony

Essay by Boggy_24A-, January 2009

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“The Idiot Colony” produced by the Redcape Theatre Company performed at the Gulbenkian Theatre on the 7th of October explores the pasts and the emotions experienced by three institutionalized women. It explores the relationships of these three and leads to a rather grim eventuality.

The opening of the play sets the scene through the entrance of the three women with there hair drawn across their faces. The image is used to create a sense of dehumanisation and leaves these women with no identity. It detaches them from the world and therefore leaves the audience with the knowledge of these women’s status. What is also noticeable is their uniformity through costume. Their white dresses and white plimsolls show a lack of identity and also gives the audience a more vivid image of there situation. This also strips the women of their sexuality, and the use of the colour white could also signify their innocence.

This uniformity is emphasised through the synchronisation of their movements and allows the audience to understand further, their lack of identity and lack of freedom. This lack of freedom and imprisonment is emphasised by the small part of the stage in which they act.

The relationships created within the play are created, quite obviously by the actions of the actors. One of the women does not speak throughout the whole play and although many would say this does not require skill it was done with great emotion and created a very grim atmosphere. Also the fact that she avoided eye contact expresses the way in which she was ripped from society in an unjust manner. This isolation is exaggerated by her restricted movements. She is in wonderment as to why she has been subjected to this new lifestyle when in reality she has done nothing wrong In the interview with the nurse we see the way in which the nurse is very impatient and inhospitable towards the ‘mental patient’. Her sharp and snappy tone emphasises the way in which she looks down upon this patient and almost sees her as a lower form of life. One of the more powerful and emotional relationships created was the one between the mother and her child. The tragic story of this young girl and her rape then the birth of her child due to this rape is an incredibly saddening scene. The use of the towel to represent the baby suggests a sense of tenderness and weakness. The ease at which the towel is ripped away from her suggests the premature motherhood that has taken place. Her childish attitude and tone are due to the fact she has not been allowed to grow up. Her traumatic experiences from childhood have encapsulated her mind in a state of childishness. This is shown through the constant pouting and childish language used throughout. Her wide eyed facial expressions exaggerated this eternal immaturity. Also the withdrawn gestures used create the idea that she has suffered in the past. She keeps her hands to herself and always bows her head in a shy manner to exaggerate that trauma.

The three women actually become quite close through the hair salon in which they work. This relationship can be seen when in the bed scene. Joy offers comfort to the character in distress by holding her hand in a reassuring manner. This is not normal behaviour of minds that are supposedly incapable of thinking in a sane way and inept of rational thoughts. This therefore exaggerates their actual sanity and the unjust treatment they have received. The imprisonment of these women leads to the inevitable insanity and creates anger amongst the audience as they have begun to realise the innocence of them. Joy actually seems to be at ease with her situation. Her outward personality is shown through her loud and confident voice and her exaggerated gestures. However this is eventually broken and she is subjected to the use of a straitjacket. It seems as though her unjust imprisonment caused her to be subjected to the pressures of concealment and the necessity of a more tepid lifestyle, and this is what caused her inevitable insanity.

The way in which these scenes were conveyed to the audience caused a huge amount of tension and stirred the emotions of the audience through many different acting techniques. The impact created was due to the effective and meaningful actions of the actors. There voices gestures and facial expressions all created moving effects and caused a grim and unnerving atmosphere to take over the theatre. Although comedy was used it was still a very moving and disturbing piece of theatre that addressed what were seen as problems of that era. These issues were still very much frowned upon and this production puts forth ideas about the unjust manner in which these issues were dealt with in an incredibly effective way.

Biblioography: The Idiot Colony (Play)