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How Coward's Soup Explores Violence and Justice in a Contemporary Context


What is Coward's Soup?




Coward's Soup is a one-act play written by George Saitoh, a pseudonym of Gary Quinn, an Irish-born molecular biologist and professor at Waseda University in Tokyo. The play was first published as a PDF file online in 2017, and later staged at a small theater in Tokyo in the same year. The play tells the story of two brothers who reunite at their father's deathbed after years of estrangement. As they confront their past and present conflicts, they also face a dilemma of whether to seek justice or forgiveness for their father's crimes.




[PDF] Coward's Soup



The plot of Coward's Soup




The play takes place in a hospital room where an old man lies unconscious on a bed, hooked up to various machines. He is identified as Mr. O'Brien, a former politician who was involved in a corruption scandal that led to his downfall and disgrace. His two sons, Sean and Patrick, arrive separately to see him for the last time. Sean is a successful lawyer who has distanced himself from his father and his brother. Patrick is a troubled artist who has suffered from mental illness and addiction. He blames his father for ruining his life and wants to kill him before he dies.


The brothers exchange awkward greetings and try to make small talk, but soon their conversation turns into an argument. Sean accuses Patrick of being irresponsible and irrational, while Patrick accuses Sean of being cold and selfish. They also reveal their different views on their father. Sean believes that their father was a victim of circumstance and deserves some respect, while Patrick believes that their father was a monster who deserves no mercy. They also recall their childhood memories, which are tainted by fear and violence.


As they argue, they are interrupted by various noises from outside, such as sirens, gunshots, explosions, screams, etc. These noises suggest that there is a civil war or a revolution happening in the city. The brothers are confused and scared by these sounds, but they also see them as a sign of change and justice. They wonder if their father's death will have any impact on the situation outside.


The play reaches its climax when Patrick reveals that he has brought a gun with him and intends to shoot their father in the head. He says that this is his way of avenging himself and his mother, who died from cancer after being abused by their father. He also says that this is his way of ending his own suffering and freeing himself from his father's shadow. Sean tries to stop him, but Patrick points the gun at him and threatens to kill him too. He says that Sean is no better than their father, and that he has betrayed him and their mother. He also says that Sean is a coward who has never stood up for anything or anyone.


The play ends with a gunshot, followed by silence. It is unclear who has been shot, or if anyone has been shot at all. The play leaves the audience in suspense and ambiguity, without providing a clear resolution or closure.


The themes of Coward's Soup




Coward's Soup is a play that explores various themes and issues, such as family, power, past, present, justice, and violence. The play uses the situation of the brothers and their father as a metaphor for the larger social and political context of their country, which is undergoing a crisis and a transformation. The play also challenges the audience to question their own assumptions and values, and to reflect on their own choices and actions.


Family and power




One of the main themes of the play is the relationship between the brothers and their father, and how it is shaped by power and authority. The play depicts the father as a tyrant who has abused his power and his family, and who has left a legacy of pain and resentment. The play also depicts the brothers as victims who have been traumatized and damaged by their father's actions, and who have developed different coping mechanisms and attitudes. The play shows how the father's power has affected the brothers' identities and relationships, and how they struggle to break free from his influence.


Family and power: Sean




Sean is the older brother who has tried to escape from his father's shadow by becoming a successful lawyer. He has adopted a rational and pragmatic approach to life, and has avoided any emotional or moral involvement with his father or his brother. He has also tried to justify his father's actions by blaming them on external factors, such as the media, the public, or the system. He believes that his father was not evil, but misguided, and that he deserves some respect for his achievements and contributions. He also believes that he himself is not a coward, but a realist, who knows how to survive and adapt in a corrupt and chaotic world.


Family and power: Patrick




Patrick is the younger brother who has been haunted by his father's shadow all his life. He has suffered from mental illness and addiction, and has expressed his anger and pain through his art. He has adopted a radical and idealistic approach to life, and has sought to confront his father and his brother with his truth and his justice. He believes that his father was evil, and that he deserves no mercy or forgiveness. He also believes that he himself is not a coward, but a hero, who knows how to fight and resist in an unjust and oppressive world.


Past and present




Another theme of the play is the contrast between the past and the present, and how they affect the brothers' realities and perspectives. The play shows how the past is still alive in the present, through memories, emotions, regrets, etc. The play also shows how the present is changing rapidly, through events, noises, news, etc. The play creates a sense of tension and uncertainty between the past and the present, as they collide and clash in the hospital room.


Past and present: Sean




Sean is more attached to the past than to the present. He has a nostalgic view of his childhood, when he was close to his father and admired him as a role model. He also has a selective memory of his father's actions, focusing on his positive aspects rather than his negative ones. He tries to ignore or deny the reality of his father's corruption and downfall, as well as his own complicity or indifference. He also tries to ignore or dismiss the reality of the present situation outside, as he sees it as irrelevant or insignificant to him.


Past and present: Patrick




Patrick is more connected to the present than to the past. He has a bitter view of his childhood, when he was afraid of his father and hated him as an enemy. He also has a vivid memory of his father's actions, focusing on his negative aspects rather than his positive ones. He tries to expose or confront the truth of his father's corruption and downfall, as well as his own suffering or resistance. He also tries to embrace or participate in the reality of the present situation outside, as he sees it as relevant or significant to him.


Justice and violence




Justice and violence




A third theme of the play is the question of justice and violence, and how they relate to each other. The play raises ethical and moral dilemmas about what constitutes justice, who deserves it, how it can be achieved, and what are its costs and consequences. The play also explores the different forms and levels of violence, from physical to psychological, from personal to political, from direct to structural. The play challenges the audience to reflect on their own views and values on justice and violence, and to consider the implications and responsibilities of their choices and actions.


Justice and violence: Sean




Sean is more inclined to accept the status quo than to challenge it. He believes that justice is a matter of law and order, and that violence is a matter of crime and punishment. He respects the authority and legitimacy of the state and its institutions, and he trusts the rationality and impartiality of the legal system. He thinks that justice can be achieved through peaceful and legal means, such as negotiation, compromise, or reform. He also thinks that violence is unjustified and counterproductive, as it only leads to more violence and suffering.


Justice and violence: Patrick




Patrick is more inclined to resist the status quo than to comply with it. He believes that justice is a matter of rights and dignity, and that violence is a matter of oppression and resistance. He rejects the authority and legitimacy of the state and its institutions, and he distrusts the rationality and impartiality of the legal system. He thinks that justice can only be achieved through radical and violent means, such as protest, rebellion, or revolution. He also thinks that violence is justified and necessary, as it is the only way to challenge and change an unjust and oppressive system.


The style of Coward's Soup




Coward's Soup is a play that uses a simple and minimalist style to create a complex and rich effect. The play uses naturalistic and poetic language, minimalistic and symbolic stage directions, and a blend of realism and surrealism to convey character, emotion, tension, atmosphere, genre, etc. The play also uses various techniques such as irony, ambiguity, contrast, repetition, etc. to enhance its meaning and impact.


The dialogue




The play uses dialogue as its main mode of expression. The dialogue is mostly naturalistic, reflecting the everyday speech patterns of the characters. The dialogue also contains some poetic elements, such as metaphors, similes, alliterations, etc., that add depth and beauty to the language. The dialogue reveals the personality, background, motivation, emotion, etc., of the characters. The dialogue also creates conflict, suspense, humor, etc., through its content, tone, rhythm, etc.


The stage directions




The stage directions




The play uses stage directions as its secondary mode of expression. The stage directions are mostly minimalistic, providing only essential information about the setting, the characters, and their actions. The stage directions also contain some symbolic elements, such as the noises from outside, the gun, the machines, etc., that add meaning and significance to the scene. The stage directions create tension and atmosphere, by suggesting a sense of danger, uncertainty, and urgency.


The genre




The play uses genre as its tertiary mode of expression. The play blends realism and surrealism, creating a hybrid genre that challenges expectations and assumptions. The play uses realism to depict the characters and their situation in a believable and relatable way. The play also uses surrealism to distort the reality and create a sense of confusion and mystery. The play mixes naturalistic and poetic language, realistic and symbolic stage directions, and factual and fictional elements, creating a contrast and a balance between the two modes.


The reception of Coward's Soup




Coward's Soup is a play that has received mixed reactions from critics and audiences. The play has been praised for its originality, creativity, and relevance, but also criticized for its ambiguity, complexity, and violence. The play has also generated different interpretations and opinions, depending on the perspective and background of the reader or viewer.


The publication history




The play was first published as a PDF file online in 2017 by Janus Creations, a small independent publisher based in Tokyo. The play was available for free download on the publisher's website, as well as on other platforms such as Amazon Kindle and Google Books. The play was intended to reach a global audience, especially those interested in contemporary drama and political issues. The play was also accompanied by an introduction by the author, explaining his motivation and inspiration for writing the play.


The performance history




The play was first staged in Tokyo in 2017 by a small theater company called Theatre Labo. The play was performed at a small venue called Theatre X, which had a capacity of about 50 seats. The play was directed by Hiroshi Yamamoto, who also played the role of Sean. The role of Patrick was played by Kenji Suzuki. The role of Mr. O'Brien was played by a dummy dressed in a suit. The play ran for four nights, from February 10th to February 13th. The play was well-attended and well-received by the audience, who gave positive feedback and applause.


The feedback and ratings




The play has received positive and negative comments from readers and viewers who have accessed it online or seen it live. Some of the positive comments praised the play for its originality, creativity, relevance, intensity, emotion, etc. Some of the negative comments criticized the play for its ambiguity, complexity, violence, pessimism, etc. Some of the comments also expressed different interpretations and opinions on the play's themes and messages, such as justice, violence, family, power, etc. The play has also received ratings from various sources, such as Amazon.com , Goodreads.com , etc., ranging from one star to five stars.


The conclusion




Coward's Soup is a one-act play that explores various themes and issues related to violence and justice in a contemporary context. The play tells the story of two brothers who reunite at their father's deathbed after years of estrangement and conflict. The play uses a simple and minimalist style to create a complex and rich effect. The play also blends realism and surrealism to create a hybrid genre that challenges expectations and assumptions. The play has received mixed reactions from critics and audiences who have accessed it online or seen it live.


In my opinion, Coward's Soup is an interesting and engaging play that raises important questions about violence and justice in our world today. I think that the play is well-written, well-structured, and well-performed. I like how the play uses a simple and minimalist style to create a complex and rich effect. I also like how the play blends realism and surrealism to create a hybrid genre that challenges expectations and assumptions. I think that the play is relevant and timely, as it reflects some of the current issues and conflicts that we face in our society.


FAQs




Here are some frequently asked questions about Coward's Soup and their answers.



Question


Answer


Who is George Saitoh?


George Saitoh is a pseudonym of Gary Quinn, an Irish-born molecular biologist and professor at Waseda University in Tokyo. He is also a playwright who has written several plays, including Coward's Soup, which was his first play.


Why did he write Coward's Soup?


He wrote Coward's Soup as a way of expressing his thoughts and feelings about violence and justice in the world. He was inspired by his own experiences of living in different countries and cultures, as well as by his interest in literature and drama.


What is the meaning of the title?


The title is a metaphor for the situation of the brothers and their father, as well as for the situation of the society they live in. It suggests that they are cowards who are afraid to face their problems and responsibilities, and who prefer to hide or escape from them. It also suggests that they are living in a soup of violence and injustice, which is boiling over and threatening to spill out.


What is the genre of the play?


The play is a hybrid genre that blends realism and surrealism. It uses realistic elements to depict the characters and their situation in a believable and relatable way. It also uses surreal elements to distort the reality and create a sense of confusion and mystery.


What is the message of the play?


The play does not have a clear or definitive message, but rather invites the audience to think and reflect on their own views and values on violence and justice. The play raises ethical and moral dilemmas about what constitutes justice, who deserves it, how it can be achieved, and what are its costs and consequences. The play also explores the different forms and levels of violence, from physical to psychological, from personal to political, from direct to structural. The play challenges the audience to question their own assumptions and choices, and to consider the implications and responsibilities of their actions.


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