The Shoe-Horn Sonata
Even with all this banter they still remain close friends after what they had been through together. The main theme from this scene is Friendship. “We were patriotic. We didn’t want to leave. I remember mother saying, ‘Sheila, you and I are English women. We do not run away from a few Orientals…” Sheila tells Rick how her mother wasn’t scared and wanted to stay in Singapore. The English were too patriotic and did not think the Japanese were capable of a surprise attack. This quote is followed by “But you did in the end” Rick saying that Sheila’s mother was wrong.
Sheila solemnly answers with “we had no choice”. This shows the audience that they were driven out of Singapore, literally. The slides projected onto the screen are pictures of children with toys boarding ships with women, soon to be victims of possibly the history’s worst, and least known massacre.
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The Japanese didn’t abide by the Geneva Convention, they were ruthless. “We lay flat on the deck and covered our eyes. But our sailors were yelling – ‘Get up! Stand up! Let the Japanese see you’re just women and children. ” Sheila explains to Rick that a spotlight was focused on her ship.
They all stood up and they heard the sound of crackers, the Japanese were firing at the ship of women and children. “Then sailors were yelling ‘Jump for it! Jump for it! ” “And then there was this deafening noise. The whole ship rose from the water and crashed on its side. It lay there like a wounded animal spilling oil, instead of blood” Sheila calmly recounts the events that happened that day to Rick. She describes in detail of the horror that happened. This cuts to a voice, young Sheila, whimpering a few lines from the hymn ‘Jerusalem’.
The sound of young Sheila’s voice fills the room and this is meant to really connect with the audience and make them feel as if they were really there. Bridie speaks up as if she is trying to steal the spotlight off Sheila by saying “My ship sunk as well. Some Japanese Zeros found us. They dropped twenty-eight bombs on the Vyner Brooke. And twenty-seven missed. The one that got us went clean down the funnel and blew the ship from beneath our feat”. Everybody was surprisingly calm, from sheer disbelief. Once Bridie was in the water she drifted off to sleep before was awoken by Sheila.
This is where the two started their friendship. Sheila says to Bridie “Weathers turned a bit chilly for this time of year” making light of the situation. Bridie was aware of the need to keep Sheila awake and, apart from discussing the merits of Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby, she resorted to tapping her with the shoe-horn her father had given her. “Before I could stop her, she was yelling out and waving, ‘yoo-hoo chaps, I say, yoo-hoo! ’. But by then I could see the ships flag”. A Japanese flag appears on stage behind the women, a blood-red rising sun.
As Bridie tells Rick of how the Japanese just laughed at the girls, bobbing around covered in oil, Sheila instinctively reaches out for Bridie’s hand. Once again the girls look very vulnerable. Then Japanese voices are played over the soundtrack. This strikes the audience and shows how the two innocent girls were terrified that a ship of Japanese soldiers were about to make them prisoners of war. “I wanted to cry. But I reminded myself I was a woman of the Empire. And it just wasn’t done to show fear to the natives. I could almost hear my mother saying: ‘Chin up, gel!
And where are your gloves? ” Sheila’s patriotic English attitude was helping her stay strong while her and Bridie were taken. Gradual darkness takes over the stage and the final chorus of ‘Jerusalem’ is played over the sound system. This symbolises hope for the two young girls. The themes shown throughout this scene of friendship, hope, survival all link to the play as a whole. This scene shows the courage of the two girls and that they really had no idea what was to come in the next few years. Although despite all this, the girls friendship is strong enough to make it through the war.