Alan Bennet’s Talking Heads – A monologue commentary

After reading a selection of monologues from Alan Bennett’s “Talking Heads”, I was inspired to right one of my own. In my monologue the focus is on a young girl who lives alone with her father, who abuses her. The title, ‘A father’s love’, is ironic because if her father loved her, then why would he abuse her? This links to the monologues written by Alan Bennett as he also uses the technique of irony to engage the audience.
The opening stage directions show some aspects of the character’s lifestyle,
“Emma sits on a battered leather armchair in a plain living room”
From reading this, the audience will be able to identify the poor lifestyle that the girl experiences; this is also shown in a further set of stage directions
“Emma is washing dishes in a basic, untidy looking kitchen.”
In both instances there are hints of poverty, yet her father finds enough money to go to the pub at night. This helps to reveal her father’s character and his priorities.
In the first section of the monologue there is no clue as to what the problem could be, but as the monologue progresses the clues become clearer and the audience may have more of an idea of what the girl is experiencing. For example,
“I said I was sorry about the medication but it really wasn’t my fault, there wasn’t a need for the way he reacted.”
There it becomes obvious to the audience that the girl’s father has a bad temper. This idea is developed in the next section of the monologue as the girl debates whether or not to go to school. It now becomes apparent that he has hit her. To create a more obvious clue I had to re draft my monologue in order for the audience to pick up on the problem,
“How can I go to school with a face like this… I could just tell everyone I fell down the stairs.”
The clues are really subtle at first but do become more obvious as the monologue progresses.
I tried to create tragedy in the monologue by portraying the young girl as feeling alone in the world; she lives alone with her bad tempered father who drinks a lot. The tragedy is that she doesn’t want to walk out on her father but she knows that it’s not safe for her to stay. I think that the audience could identify this in the monologue. In my monologue, it shows the father suprising the young girl with a shopping trip; this was only through guilt. It’s tragic that he has to show his love for his daughter by buying presents and not through affection. By the end of the monologue we can see that there has been no change in the attitude of the father, although he promises his daughter that things will change, they don’t. Emma says,
“He promised me that he wasn’t going to do this anymore… I just hope he isn’t drunk again.”
This demonstrates her fear of her father.
The last set of stage directions shows that the girl is frightened and that her father hasn’t changed. The young girl knows what is going to happen when her father comes home.
“A door slams and a man is heard shouting from off stage… He’s home! (Frightened)”
I have tried to end my monologue on a tragic note, but leave the audience in suspense. It shows that the father has broke his promise and come in drunk again, but there is no indication as to whether he will beat his daughter.

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