A Prayer for Owen Meany
The play A Prayer for Owen Meany is about the power of religious belief and the power of believing in yourself and in the people that surround you. The purpose of the play was to help you take a drastic look at your own belief and how you react towards it and how your religion affects your daily life and responsibilities. It forces you to take leaps of faith by showing us something that is not actually real, and in doing this it makes you ask yourself if its possible to deny the existence of a God.
The subplot of the play was about being different and how people around you can treat you because of this. It focused on how he was treated and discriminated against because of his voice, which never broke, and because of his body. The most important character in the play was Meany who was used as a means of exposing not just the hypocrisies of small town life but also the larger follies of post-war America. He was also used as the means and weapon for the death of his friend’s (John Wheelwright) mother.
At the beginning of the play Owen Meany’s character was a complete mystery to the audience, as we had no history or background on him. This reflected his character, as in the play his personality was a complete mystery to the people surrounding him. Owen’s only real friend John looks back from the vantage point of Canada in the 80s on a five-foot saviour he grew up with in New Hampshire from 1953 to 1968. John’s friend has a wrecked voice and a tiny body but, from the moment Meany accidentally kills John’s mother with a baseball shot, the narrator accepts him at his own valuation as a second Messiah.
John drifts from the vantage point of 45 into a re-enactment of childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. John’s mother was an important character in the play as her death, which was caused accidentally by Owen, was the reason why Owen began to believe that he was an instrument of God. Thanks to her he believed that God had chosen his path, his destiny and that it was his duty to follow, as he knew best. There is a virtuoso performance from Aidan McArdle as Owen.
In this case I thought that the best actor in the play was Aidan McArdle who by making his voice almost as gratingly high-pitched as Dame Edna Everage’s, indelibly charges the role of this diminutive, half-divine man with randy wildness, dread and religious fervour. Aidan McArdle offers a tour de force as Owen Meany, squeaking away with voluble candour, and miraculously ensuring that we care deeply about a character who might easily seem either cute or insufferable.
Aidan portray Meany superbly as a moralist let loose in a godless world. Aidan McArdle is exceptional as the diminutive Owen. Voice movement in the play helped us to realise when a person was far away or when the person speaking was in a dream, what it also did was help us figure out who we should really be listening to and who was just background noise Mainly John used the voice projection in the play when he was narrating; the voice projections caught our attention and let us know that he was the one whom we should be listening to.
The accent that was used in the play was an American accent, even though all their accents showed that they were from different parts of America, this alerted us immediately to where the play was taking place, it also gave the characters basis and foundation to a certain background and history. Owen’s parents, in the play, had an Irish accent and an obviously Irish background, which helped to push them outside the play and allowed us to accept them as outsiders and it let us realise that they were not part of the typically society that was around in the play.
Although the play was not meant to be a comedy there was a slight amount of humour, which was dark humour, it was funny but in a horrific way. This humour lightened the load of the subject of religious belief and of faith that was being delivered by Owen Meany. Owen Meany and the other characters were able to build up an awkward relationship with the audience and there was a connection between the characters and their audience, which made us, listen to them inventively and absorb every single work that they said.
Other actors were used in this play to create a more comfortable and realistic atmosphere. They also helped to portray the subplot as they helped to show just how differently the people around him treated him The set of the play was completely bare when the audience first entered the room, any props that were needed where wheeled unto the stage systematically as they were needed. This meant that the audience’s attention was not taken away from the play by flashy scenery or overtly designed costumes. Owen’s faith in what he can’t see mirrors our faith in what we can’t see on stage.
No film set could be as involving as Dick Bird’s bare floorboard stage, which Neil Austin’s inch-perfect lighting enables to morph in a flash from nativity play to baseball pitch to riverbank to Thanksgiving dinner. Props are few, and made to count. Characters are what matters here, and the sure-footed storytelling inspires the versatile, talented cast to exemplary work. They know they’re on to something good. Therefore the staging was incredibly simply and overtly theatrically. So if there were to be a lighting effect, or a light on stage you would see that it was a theatre light and not a real location.
There was no attempt to disguise the production, with realistic settings. Everything was signalled whether it is an empty tray of glasses being passed around and a sound effect of clinking glasses as people reached for a glass, or whether it be people in bed standing up holding blankets unrealistically. At every opportunity where the play asked an audience to make a leap of faith by showing them what was not real, I thought that for thematic investigation and the form of the piece of theatre were working together.
So that’s why it was so minimalistically staged and appears to be very simple. Of course simple is not an easy staging to work with, however it allowed the audiences imagination to take place in the play. Te entire play took part as a flashback, a memory that was being recalled upon by John Wheelwright, inside his flashback many different techniques were used, for example slow-motion was used to create a moment of tension and theatrics, it caused to audience to be on the edge of their seats waiting with anticipation and baited breath to find out what would finally happen.
Another technique used was atmosphere, it was used to make us feel more like we were watching a baseball game, or looking at a thanksgiving dinner. The type of lighting that was used created atmosphere in most of the play, this was also true with the type of sounds that the actors projected into the audience. In my opinion the best part of the play was how Owen integrated a simple basketball move to save the life of his friend john and several helpless children. I felt this held a powerful message as he did this while sacrificing his own life n the process