Academic journal article Australasian Drama Studies

'I Want You Boys to Cook a Pig': The Two No. 2s

Academic journal article Australasian Drama Studies

'I Want You Boys to Cook a Pig': The Two No. 2s

Article excerpt

Mt Roskill as microcosm

At the end of the play No. 2, during the family feast, Soul makes his acceptance speech after being named Nanna Maria's successor; the last words of his speech are: 'God bless America'.1 Near the end of the film No. 2, Soul concludes his acceptance speech with the words: 'God bless Mt Roskill'.2 Soul is not in America; he is in the Auckland suburb of Mt Roskill, so 'God bless America' is satirical, witty and subversive - as he sends up his own speech, making light of its significance. At the same time, the fact that he is relaxed enough to make a joke in front of his peers and grandmother shows how the inarticulate Soul has gained a new authority since his sudden elevation to the status of Nanna Maria's successor. In Soul, Nanna Maria's spirit of insubordination and cheekiness lives on; her choice of him as successor proves to have an inner logic which has been deftly screened from the authence until now. Surprise and pleasure are well mixed as in a good stiff gin.

The phrase 'God bless Mt Roskill', on the other hand, is sincere, heartfelt and patriotic. Soul has been chosen as successor and his words vote for the fact that Mt Roskill is okay; yeah, it's all right, despite the kind of things people might say. In his 'Introduction' to the published script of No. 2, Toa Fraser, author of both play and film and also director of the film, highlights the private versus public mythology of Mt Roskill which imbues both play and film:

No. 2 came straight outta Mt Roskill ... For as long as I can remember Mt Roskill has been a romantic, mythical place ... Only recently I learnt that Mt Roskill was supposed to be the opposite of the way I always knew it - apparently it was like the boringest place in the whole wide world, where commonsense New Zealanders could nurture their families in a safe environment.3

By the end of the film, Soul has become a spokesperson for the community of No. 2 - this being the number of their house in the street - and his newly endowed status allows him to lend his authority to the idea of the positive value of Mt Roskill. People may scoff at and disregard Mt Roskill, but it's a great little place after all. The film - more than the play - constructs Mt Roskill as a microcosm of the nation - a great little place despite everything - which means that the film is more nationalistic than the play. In the play, the only people at the feast are Nanna Maria, her grandchildren, Tyson's girlfriend Maria and Father Francis; whereas at the feast in the film, Nanna Maria's children and grandchildren are joined by a good chunk of the surrounding community who arrive in a convoy of cars. Fraser knew what he was doing when he changed that final phrase in Soul's acceptance speech.

A further contrast between play and film can be drawn via the final musical moments of each. In the play, after Soul's acceptance speech and after Charlene calls the guests to say grace and to eat, Nanna Maria 'takes her seat in her chair\ but when she sits she is no longer at the feast, instead finding herself alone. From there, the music of 'Cavalleria Rusticana intermezzo fades up' and then 'gets louder, and she gets up and she dances off into the darkness with her husband'.* This intermezzo is used right through what Coppola would argue is the Fifth Act of The Godfather Part 3 and it connects to Nanna Maria's fantasy vision of her feast, a popular culture version of Italian-ness such as The Godfather films encapsulate, and it connects also to her husband Joseph and the orange dove he saw in a vision when lying wounded through the heart on a beach in Sicily in World War II - the same dove Nanna Maria has seen that morning - a premonition of her own death, of her re-uniting with her Joseph. The connections with the music at the end of the play are interior and personal to the central character and do not connect to a wider sense of community or nation. The music's function is to accompany Nanna Maria's going 'off into the darkness'. …

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