A Journey to Italy
Being an Actress Enchanted April was a way for me to learn about change and love and the depth that comes through both of those things. It first starts off with two very unhappy women who get taken off to Italy as a opportunity of new hope sweeps the stage. It is full of real life and full of flowers and beauty. It to me was a way to love life even when it tasted like lemons and felt like hand sanitizer in a papercut. Matthew Barber uses tone, symbolism, and organization to take the audience and actors like me along with the characters on their journey to new growth and discovery.
The play first opens with the stage dark and rain banging on the windows in the background. The author, Matthew Barber, uses this to set the tone and mood of the first act. The entire first act is quite, dark with the rain getting louder and louder. This makes the character increasingly more intense and leaving them with the feeling they need to change their lives. You know the feeling where you are stressed and the wall seem to just falling in on you? That is the way they see this world they live in. They push and push against the problems facing them until Lotty gets utterly sick of the rain and decide to escape to something better and more promising. The darkness is used as a tool to first influence the characters and their choices within their lives, but it is also used to show the feelings of the characters and the depth of their motivation. It is used as a tool to push Lotty and her companions throughout the entire show with a need to find something other than this rain a collapsing walls. Barber uses the rain as a way to make the audience understand how sad and lonely Rose is and how Lotty feels the disgust and “picture perfect” marriage to a man who no longer cares more than anything in the world then her. It drives the character to do something they would never think of as an option.
As the second act opens the audience has been transported to a place of beauty. One where there are bright flowers and chirping birds. The weight of the first act feels as if it has been lifted off the shoulders of the actors. You automatically feel at peace. This is a place where you can have tea by the seaside and make flower crowns. Where the food is fresh and the sea is overwhelmingly yours. This is such a transition from the first act of the show. Barber uses this act as a way to relieve the tension that he built in the first act. It is bright and happy and carefree. Barber uses this to show that new hope was coming to these characters. That they are no longer stuck in the oppressing lives that they were before. That their lives were dark and dreary but now they have the opportunity to share and change and become new. This new tone Barber is relaxed and excited.
Barber also uses symbolism as a way for showing how the character within this play will change and grow. The rain is used to show the utter hopelessness and the sadness that was in their lives. The rain pounds and pounds restlessly throughout the entire first half this represents the growing tension and need to escape the lives these characters live. The rain becomes not only a physical trap for the characters but also a metaphorical drive for them. Barber uses the rain throughout every scene because he wants it to become a constant. He uses it in a way that when the second act does roll around the emptiness where the thunder use to be is a little bit awkward. It’s a feeling of emptiness and being taken aback. This is greatly utilized because the audience recognizes that something will happen to these characters that really will change and be better. This again puts you right back into the shoes of Lotty and her companions on this trip to Italy. In the second act the rain is replaced with flowers. Barber uses this as a way for symbolizing new hope. There are periods where flowers die and then regrow the next spring. The flowers represent the new growth that will happen to Lotty and her companions in the second act. It shows that even though the first act was a little rough the flowers will come back stronger and better than they ever were.
Throughout the entire play Barber uses the way the character interact and the syntax of the show and lines to really convey the feeling of the characters themselves. In the first act for example the characters lines often build and finish each other’s sentences. They build on top of one another until they reach a peak and then they will come crashing down creating a beautiful tension. Watching this interaction build can move an audience and actor to tears. This tension is created between each character as they struggle to connect with one another. They are trying to get frustrations across to the opposite party but don’t know how to bring down their walls enough to do that. A good example of this is in scene 8, where Lotty and Rose both tell their husbands that they are taking a holiday to Italy the words and lines flip back and forth to each conversation. It is very confusing but it gives you the sense of disconnect these characters that are suppose to be in love, are feeling for one another. They each want and need something from everyone but they aren’t sure how to achieve that goal. Barber uses the way words and phrases to build and destroy each and every characters relationship with one another.
In the ending paragraph of the show Lotty closes with a beautiful continuation of the story. Barber uses frame narrative to bring us back to the beginning of the show as a way of closing the play. This is a great way to appeal to the audience because we as human beings love the idea of closure and a full circle. Barber takes full advantage of this and uses it to bring the audience members closer to the characters and to help the audience understand what happens to the characters after they have moved on and learned their lesson. It leaves you with a content happy feeling, very opposite from how you felt in the very beginning of the show.
Barber uses tone, syntax and organization to take the audience on a journey through the month of a Enchanted April. This play is beautiful play of love and companionship. One that leaves us feeling as if we have bettered ourselves. It teaches us that there is always a new beginning and that the rain doesn’t last forever.