A Comparison between Billy Liar and Shirley Valentine
I have just been studying Billy Liar and performing it as part of my
mock scripted drama GCSE, and have been asked to compare this theatre
script to the film script of Shirley Valentine. I have already given
the first difference between these two scripts; one is a theatre
script and the other is designed specifically for the big screen.
Billy Liar was originally a novel written by Keith Waterhouse, who
with the help of Willis Hall made it into a theatre script in the
1960's. Billy is an imaginative youth who is fighting to get out of
his complacent, cliché-ridden background. He was born and brought up
in a town in Yorkshire and lives with his father, Geoffrey, mother,
Alice, and grandmother, Florence. Billy has three girlfriends, Rita,
Barbara and Liz, but he only shows genuine affection and feelings
towards Liz. Billy is always fantasising and making up things which
earns him the label 'liar'. At the end of the play Billy decides to
leave his home and follow Liz to London but as we find out in the last
scene he 'chickens' out and returns to the home he so desperately
wants to escape.
Shirley Valentine on the other hand was written as a film script, by
the author Willy Russell in the 1980's, but the story is very similar
to that of Billy Liar. Shirley is a housewife and mother to two grown
up children. Her husband Joe is very insensitive and unaffectionate.
Shirley's best friend Jane invites Shirley to spend two weeks with her
in Greece on holiday. Like Billy, Shirley wants very much to escape
her mundane and structure lifestyle, but is apprehensive, after a row
with Joe she is determined to go. Shirley leaves without informing Joe
and leaves him to fend for himself for two weeks. On the plane Jane
meets a man and goes off with him leaving Shirley on her own. Slowly
Shirley rediscovers herself and meets a bar owner called Costas who
she has an affair with. By the end of the two weeks Shirley does not
want to leave and makes the decision to stay behind in Greece and get
a job. Joe on the other hand wants her back but she refuses, and in
the last scene of the play we see that Joe makes the effort and goes
out to Greece to win Shirley back.
Because both scripts are designed for different purposes the dialogue
in each one is very different. In Billy Liar the dialogue is quite
lengthy and quite adult, proper and formal in the way it is
constructed. This would be down to the time at which it was written.
In the 1960's the Lord Chancellor was very tough on censorship. Any
swearing or even slightly risqué images were changed or censored
completely. The strongest word used within the play is probably