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"Noises Off" By Michael Frayn: Written Vs. Dramatic Vs. Visual An Analysis Of Comedy Throughout The Ages, World And Genres

2063 words - 8 pages

From sardines to booze, an axe to flowers, and form to farce; Michael Frayn's "Noises Off" is a tantalizing script and a thrill for the eyes. The script has taken three forms: written, dramatic and visual, though each one is unique in its own right. Each version brings to life a new piece of the story creating, essentially, three different stories depending on how you perceive each one. Through my evaluation of each, I propose that the dramatic representation of Frayn's "Noises Off" is far more telling than that of the written or visual manifestations.The written tradition came first among the three I've chosen to analyze, so why then is it not the best representation? After all, you'd think that a written version would be the most detailed considering that stage directions, specific props, costumes and outlines of the characters are included. What makes it less than its dramatic cohort? There are many aspects to this play that bring it to life, one being the fact that it could be classified as a farce. A farce is a comedy based on timing, speed, or tempo. The quicker a joke can get out to the audience the better, especially when it's one joke after another building on top of each other. As noted before, in the written tradition of a script many aspects are included that you must read but in the dramatic or visual manifestations the words are replaced by images...something that the audience barely even registers. For example in a script the author will note who moves where, when they do it and what, if anything, they are carrying with them as they do so. In a visual or dramatic version the audience can see this action and does not have to take away from the storyline to do so. With words, an audience member loses the flow of the action by having to read through the stage directions and other side notes that are included for technical purposes. Essentially, the whole idea of a "farce" is lost due to the tediousness of language that a script requires.Technology is the dominant drive behind visual narratives. Since about 1895 we've been blessed with this new imitation of life, but what are we missing through this form of storytelling? In an excerpt from The Project Gutenberg E-text of Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic by Henri Bergson titled, "Chapter II: The Comic Element in Situations and the Comic Element in Words," we learn of the idea of a snowball effect. The snowball effect is when a comedic situation starts small and builds and builds upon itself to create an out-of-control scenario that the characters must find their way out of. This escalation of the already unmanageable circumstances provides the storyline of many plots. Frayn's Noises Off is a prime example of this technique; however through a visual portrayal of the script I believe this form of comedy is lost, and it is only properly seen in a dramatic depiction.When it comes to writing the book for a movie, a writer must create a storyline that has a solid beginning,...

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