Form can be defined as a shaping principal either in its widest sense (where it is overlapped with genre) or in its specific sense, where it was a discoverable organising principal within a work. Structure can be defined as the action of building. The word carries the sense of the process of building, organisation (scenes, episodes etc. ) ‘Greek’ is considered to be an epic play (spanning a lot of time and distance – as it manages to cover 10 years), structured as series of episodes taking the form of a story in its own right.
The play consists of 2 Acts. Act 1 is comprised of five scenes and Act 2 is comprised of four scenes. ‘Greek’ has a combination of short and long scenes covering different periods of time. The idea of utilising different scene lengths is to ensure the audience is engaged, allowing them to think and follow the action, in other words motivating them instead of ‘serving it straight on a plate. For example, a short scene is when Eddy’s mum and dad discuss the plague of the city (Act 1 scene 3).
An example of a long scene is the last scene where Eddy’s mum and dad come to visit Eddy and his new wife and end up confessing the truth about how they found him at the “River Thames”, (Act 2 scene 4). The main structure of ‘Greek’ is Eddy’s story as he narrates his point of view. One of the techniques utilised in ‘Greek’ as part of the structure is “flash back”. This represents the passage of time, enabling the audience to explore the memories depicted throughout the play, providing the audience with a deeper insight to the characters.
We are shown that Eddy’s memory is fuzzy – he only has suspicions of his early childhood, where his pseudo parents’ memories are crystal clear. A prime example of a use of the ‘flash back’ technique is when Eddy’s dad depicts the time when Eddy “… were just a nipper”, they “went to a gypsy fortune-teller”, whom told them that “he sees a violent death for his son’s father” and that he’ll have “a bunk-up with his mum”. This not only disturbs his mum and dad but the audience are left lingering with a mixture of unsettling emotions.
In order to explore and understand this technique, the entire class participated in a workshop, where we were separated into partners. We were then appointed a task to each remember either a happy or sad memory. Next we shared our memory to our partners whom listened attentively. Once we both shared our memories, one person was chosen from each group to retell the memory (they had just been told), in the first person animating it with physical moment and facial expressions. Laura Bell was my partner; she was selected to retell my unfortunate memory.
A brief synopsis of my memory was that I fractured my ankle in a netball match and wasn’t able to partake in a fun filled netball trip for a weekend. The form of this was in a monologue, where she juxta-posed her facial expressions. Initially she was content, smiling with enthusiasm and excitement then deflated her wide smile and big eyes to being crushed. She initially moved around continuously, jumping in the air, jumping in the air, miming herself throwing a ball, changing to being on the floor, unable to move. We were able to understand how memories convey emotions, either bright or poignant etc.
They enable the audience to relive a particular part of a characters life a significant part of the play. Imagery is also used to convey the slum working class life, the rotten British plague “a smelly corner pub run by rancid thick as pig shit paddy that sold nothing but booze and crisps” with the luxuries of the rich, “deep leather sofas/succulent wines”. As part of the form, the play consists of monologues, which has a direct influence on the audience, as it is similar to having a conversation. For example, when Eddy leaves home and walks “along the garbage filled London streets”, depicts the British plague.
Also the play consists of a prologue, introducing the play, giving the audience an insight to Eddy’s life as well as setting the scene. Berkoff usually minimises props and sets and liberally uses costumes, lights and physical theatre. In particular to ‘Greek’ on stage there is a kitchen table and four chairs (which function in a number of ways – from the platform for the Sphinx to the cafi?? ). The use of the table and chairs is to merely define spaces and act as a base for the actors to spring from. The walls are three square upright white panels, indicating Greek classicism.
The actors’ faces are painted white reefing to Greek statues. The style of minimising and props and sets etc. can be interpreted that the audience focuses on the actual acting. The use of physical theatre is very dramatic and striking. An example, of Berkoff’s style of physical theatre can be seen when Eddy and the manager of the cafi?? (Eddy’s real father) engage in a verbal fight – where they mime the fight, “haemorrhage, rupture and swell. Split and crack lock, jaw sprung and neck break”. This is just as engaging for the audience.