P'tang Yang Kipperbang
“Good morning to you from Lords, and the second England-Australia Test Match of 1948 - P'tang Yang Kipperbang introduction. The Umpires are out… and the England fieldsmen. And here are the Barnes and Morris for Australia, out to the wicket to bat. ” This whole play is a huge analogy with cricket. The way the author uses John Arlott’s commentary to reflect what’s actually happening is very clever and utterly brilliant. Using John Arlott as the narrator of the play works very well even though he is commentating on the cricket.
This is because the author makes the link between the play and cricket very clear. Maybe Jack Rosenthal wanted to express his views that life is like a game and so he decided to make this analogy with cricket. Using John Arlott as the narrator is probably the simplest but most original dramatic device in this play. In the first scene, the cricket match and Alan’s dream are being described simultaneously. I personally imagine Alan as the batsman; Alan’s goal is to hit the ball, or in other words, to kiss the girl.
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However, as the ball hits the three stumps, all of these hopes and dreams get shattered, and the shot of the couple also shatters into pieces: “A shot of three cricket stumps – as they’re hit and shattered by the cricket ball”. This happens because the girl doesn’t love Alan back. She’s got a crush on somebody else – Mr G. Whittaker. Jack Rosenthal could’ve straightforwardly described this with ease, but instead he manipulated the ideas of cricket and John Arlott throughout the play.
The language of Arlott is so effective because it’s a running commentary of what’s taking place in real life. It is even more effective because both cricket and Arlott just happen to be very close to Alan’s heart. John Arlott and cricket are merely two puppets in the hands of the author. This crush Alan has on the girl is a pure example of an adolescent obsession. Adolescent obsession is a major part of P’tang Yang Kipperbang, and is centrally focused in throughout the play. Alan, who’s 14 years old, has got to a stage in life where he will start having sexual thoughts.
Despite this, he only wants to kiss Anne, when he’s fully aware he’s not homosexual. He tries not to think about the ‘other things’, which obviously means he’s trying not to think about sex. Maybe this is out of respect to Anne. I get a picture he likes to be a gentleman, meaning he must have a level of decency. Alan is not like his friends, who constantly keep on talking about girls and sex. His friends, Abbo and Shaz, get really engrossed whenever the conservation is about girls.
Abbo, who is highly shocked after finding out Shaz has been feeling up girls, keeps on asking questions such as: “Inside? “, “She let you? “, and “Actually inside her brassiere? ” Shaz, who wants to look cool, tries to make no big deal out of it. At the end of the scene, we actually find out that Shaz didn’t really touch the girl’s breasts – he shrugged it off by saying: “Near enough… it’s more than you’ve ever got! ” This tells us that when it comes to girls, boys say and do all they can to exaggerate a point, and vice versa.
This type of lying is very common among teenagers. As they go through puberty, boys tend to start thinking about the opposite sex more and more; boys were so desperate in Alan’s school, that they queued up in a line to ‘push’ against a girl called Eunice, who in return got money for it: “Each boy, in turn, then presses his body against Eunice’s for a moment with complete absence of passion. ” The thing that is so funny is that how naive Eunice is for comparing this in being something similar to the act of prostitution. How wrong she is!
She is carrying out this act so she can think of herself as more of an adult, which for Eunice, is a part of adolescent obsessions and growing up. She makes the scene even more comical by adding silly comments such as: “You boys really! ” and “A girl just isn’t safe! ” We have a love triangle in this play, which is something very common in adolescence. It is said the average teenager falls in and out of love about 15 times. So, Alan on one side has a crush on Anne. But Anne is in love with Geoffrey, and he likes her back.
But, by the end of the play, the tables have turned, and it is Anne who starts liking Alan, but he doesn’t have the same feelings for her anymore. During most of the play however, you can spot a clear connection between Anne and Geoffrey -they’re both clever, good-looking and they’re the only ones who say goodbye by saying “Manana”. There is something definitely going on between them: “Anne is pleased as being chosen. She smiles shyly at… Geoffrey. Alan watches her, achingly, as he backs out of the door”.
Alan watches ‘achingly’ for two reasons: one reason is in the context that Alan doesn’t want to stop looking at Anne, and that it’s hurting him that he loves Anne so much but can’t do anything about it! The second reason is that because Anne looked at Geoffrey and smiled. Alan knows there’s something going on between them and he’s just hurt that it isn’t him in the place of Geoffrey, because he knows he loves Anne more than Geoffrey does. Another example of their relationship is when all of the girls are choosing the most handsome boy in their class. “‘Next is…
Geoffrey’ … some of them turn to Anne and giggle enviously”. It’s worth thinking why the girls turned to Anne when Geoffrey’s name was read aloud. They also started giggling with envy, meaning that they were jealous of Anne. But why? That’s easy – because Geoffrey likes her! The title of the play is called “P’tang Yang Kipperbang”, a word made up by Alan and his friends. It is used for greetings and goodbyes. Making up words will always be part of the teenage years. I think making up words allows everyone to be much more relaxed and satisfied with what they’re saying.
Making up words seems to be the ‘cool’ thing to do. Examples of words Alan and his friends made up include “Pukedom vomitudinosity”, “Pontoonicosity” and “Osculatory weediosity”. The language used by the boys is very informal and when saying these words, it seems as if they’re in their comfort zone. The made up words are just real words with fake suffixes added to the end of them. From these made up words, we find humour in the play, and we also find out more about school life in the 1940s.