The Divorce

Only three of the plays in ‘Club Bazaar’ were directly connected. These were: ‘The Decent Date,’ ‘The Divorce’ and ‘The Balloon Ghost.’ In short, a couple meet for a first date and get on rather well. During ‘The Decent Date’ we meet Mr Jones, who is ill with what he believes is scurvy… Well… scurvy or love. Mr Jones and Miss Brown walk off, announcing they shall be coughing and sneezing together for the rest of their lives.

In Act Two we start with ‘The Divorce,’ where Mr Jones and Miss Brown are arguing about how Mr Jones is constantly obsessing over a painting he believes is Miss Brown. Miss Brown eventually and understandably gets so furious she brutally murders Mr Jones with his own paintbrush, conveniently already covered in red paint.

‘The Balloon Ghost’ is a final monologue by Miss Brown, who is talking to a balloon she believes is the ghost of her husband Mr Jones.

So, let us start with the music in ‘The Divorce.’

In a metre of 7/8 (with a beaming of 3+2+2 to start) this scene started with pizzicato violin, snare drum and piano. Mr Jones and Miss Brown are pacing angrily onstage, and this anger and awkwardness is present in the time signature, tempo and dynamic. As Finnegan started to introduce the scene, solo piano carried on underscoring the argument.

I chose a time signature of 7/8 so I could easily reflect the anger, awkwardness and growing frustrations presented on stage by the cast in their dialogue. When the characters got angrier, I changed my rhythms unpredictably to reflect the hectic nature of the scene; the music here was a response to the actors, and the score changed every single night. Some exchanges of dialogue would be fast one night and slower another night, so I changed my tempo to match the energy onstage. The angrier the cast were the faster and louder my music, and vice-versa. I made these changes very quickly and easily to combine the onstage tension with the tension in the music.

With the death of Mr Jones we had a few contrasting ideas for how he should die. Ben wanted a nice piece of music to accompany his graceful fall, creating a peaceful atmosphere, but I disagreed with this and noted the similarity to the ending of ‘The Legend of Baboonita’ (where almost everyone dies and the music is nice and calm). Ben agreed and I made the ending sinister, and again the music was a response to what was happening onstage. When Mr Jones fell to the floor, I made my chords slower and heavier, getting louder and more accented, showing his life slipping away through the music. Sometimes lovely actor Tom Williams took a very long time to die, and it was funny for the audience to see I was obviously trying to kill him off with my final chords; I always made the music as dramatic as his death was.

In the first stages of writing this scene we workshopped it with Mr Jones and Miss Brown shouting at each other over the top of the piano. With the sustain pedal held down to catch every word they were shouting, the argument itself would create the underscore.  We liked the idea but agreed it would have been boring to watch after the novelty had worn off, so instead we decided on the hectic and fast paced direction you can see below!

Featured image by Cordelia O’Driscoll

Published by emilycomptonsound

I’m a location sound recordist based in London. I record production sound for short films, corporate videos, and anything that comes my way! I also work as a post-production sound designer, composer and dub editor, as well as a musical theatre mixer and sound operator.

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