Theatrical play: Influence of time on human relationships

Analyzing any art of drama or play always comes with the burden of demonstrating how the author tries to present how things really are in the real life situation.  From the beginning of the 19th century, realism has evolved as a theatrical convention with the goal of presenting real life situations through stage performance. In the play Sure Thing,David Ives achieves realism by presenting amazingly witty satire on how the passing of time and chance can change the normal conversation, reactions and relationship between two people of opposite sex, and who are strange to each other.The play demonstrates diverse elements of normal conversation as they may occur in real life situation depending on specific contexts. It also demonstrates how people react towards a few simple words in an attempt to establish relationship and connection between each other.

            Setting: David Ives sets the play Sure Thing in a café where Betty and Bill as the two main characters of the play uneasily meet each other. Café is a good setting for the author to achieve the theme of theatrical realism. It is common in everyday life for people to encounter strangers in a café, and the encounter sometimes gets awkward as Ives demonstrates in the play.   Café helps Ives to set the mood and the context of the play to the audience. Reading through the text, one gets to easily understand the conflict between Bill and Betty. The two are strugglingto understand each other and to behave as socially expected. Krupnick et al. (20) argue that this kind of uncertaintyarises when people meet the controversy on how to ascertain social objectives.

Dialogue: The play starts with Bill entering the cafe walking towards Betty. Bill then inquires from Betty whether a chair at her table is taken. Betty says yes to Bill, and a bell rings for the first time: The play starts…

Bill. Excuse me. Is this chair taken?

Betty. Excuse me?

Bill. Is this taken?

Betty. Yes, it is.

Bill. Oh. Sorry.

Betty. Sure thing

(A bell rings softly) (Ives 1)

…and the story continues full of the comics of life. When Betty answers, “sure thing,”Bill fails to find a clever response. However,play shows that it is only a matter of time and events. The response shows two positions of conflict with which Betty struggles. First, Betty works on a dreadful finality to show complete disinterest in Bill. Second, the phrase presents welcome, both accepting and denying the risk that comes with it. It is idiomatic and has motivating effects in the context of relationships in a strange encounter. Two major things stand out in the play; lack of direction, and how reactions and ideas (attitude) of people change with time. 

In a conventional play, such an encounter may just be that, however, Ives introduces another device, abell.The bell rings softly after the first attempt, giving Bill the chance to start over again in order to get a preferred response from Betty. The first bell creates the time for Bill to find the right combination of words, the correct nuance, and the best approach that would give the best result for each other. It also gives Betty chance to get in to the relationship.

After the first bell rings, Bill asks Betty the first question about the chair again, but now Betty answers that she is waiting for someone. However, Bill would not stop at that, probably, with time he would urge on. In addition, Ives creates the time and chance with the bell ringing the third time. At this time, and amid disruptions from the bell as conversation continues, Bill and Betty establish a relationship, but with little connection.

In subsequent dialogue, the theme is about time and how it influences human relationships. The disruption caused by the soft ringing bell demonstrates the passing time, which Bill constantly tries to utilize, but always gets out of phase with Betty.As time changes, the two are faced with a sequence of thoughtful questions and challenges, each trying to know the strengths, the likes and weaknesses of one another. According toMassie andSzajnberg (11),human perception and attitude towards the same thing may change even if the context remains the same.

Bill learns of the mystery of time and the existence of people. He claims his admiration of Faulkner’s “profound grasp on the mystery of time and human existence”. As Betty talks of being fond of Faulkner and wishes to have encountered him earlier, Bill comments “You might not have liked him before…You have to hit these things at the right moment or it’s no good”. Just as Zimbardo and Leippe (4) observe, the play demonstrates howpeople change their attitude as a result of social influence. Bill argues that the past is gone and expects Betty to have changed.

Sure Thing comprises a series of dumpy and intelligent exchange of words in order to   break the barrier between them and establish a relationship. The conflict through the text is quite common with other conflicts involving man and man, or man and self, only that in this case it is dynamic and easily influenced by the external factor, the ringing of the bell (the changing time). As time changes, people present themselves differently. This influences the kind of relationship they try to establish, as presented in the Sure Thing.
























Work cited

Alan, Krupnick et al.Not a Sure Thing: Making Regulatory Choices under Uncertainty.Resources for the Future.2006. P. 20.

Maria,Nicola. Sure Thing Summary.Grade Saver community. Accessed 15th Nov. 2016

Massie, H. N. and  Szajnberg, N. M.  Lives across time/growing up : paths to emotional health and emotional illness from birth to 30 in 76 people.London :Karnac Books, 2008. P. 11

Zimbardo, P. G and   Leippe, M. R. The psychology of attitude change and social influence.New York : McGraw-Hill, ©1991. P.4.


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