Refer to Act Two, scene three of Moo by Sally Clark: at Moo's 60th birthday party, how does this scene reshape or reinforce the reader's idea about Moo and her family—and why is the scene funny,...

Refer to Act Two, scene three of Moo by Sally Clark: at Moo's 60th birthday party, how does this scene reshape or reinforce the reader's idea about Moo and her family—and why is the scene funny, if it is?

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booboosmoosh's profile pic

booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Sally Clark's Moo, Act Two, scene three, when Moo is celebrating her sixtieth birthday, clearly indicates that nothing much has changed in this family. Moo is no longer a young, rebellious woman able to turn her back on her life and family and run away with what Clark calls a rotter, someone who "seduced wealthy women and then deserted them." That behavior seems perhaps unremarkable for the woman Moo was. However, having turned sixty, she still has failed to move on.

For instance, she still giggles, however at this point of the play, she is under the table with her boyfriend, doing what one can only imagine, as her sisters, their children and grandchildren are present and left to imagine—or wonder—as the case may be.

Moo and her sister still bicker like kids, exchanging "Did not" and "Did too" repeatedly. Moo is a rather unusual kind of comedy (easily, a tragicomedy), and the humor is equally unusual. Wally (Moo's boyfriend) is "pawing" her, while Charlie attempts to make a toast in Moo's honor. Susan, Jane's daughter, asks her mother:

Mummy, what is that old man trying to do?

JANE:

He's making a speech. Sssssh.

SUSAN: 

Not Grandpa. Him! (points to WALLY)

JANE:

He's trying to pull her dress off. Now shut up!

Comedy wears many faces. One structure or "theory" of comedy...

...focuses on the element of surprise. Reversing an audience’s expectations creates humor.

By this definition, this passage is comic: this is not what the audience would generally expect from a woman turning sixty.

If Moo was indulged as a young woman, she continues to be indulged as an older woman. Her sisters do the best they can to ignore her behavior, even while allowing her to act inappropriately in front of the youngest members of her family, whether by what she does or what she says. She still says what is on her mind.

I'm an old f***ing woman as of today.

"Comedy" continues as Charlie (a bit muddled, mentally) repeats after her, and Wally continues to "maul Moo."

In truth, this is where I find the play tragic—but Moo and her family members are as well. They are a dysfunctional lot. They know their sister, but still they planned this event. Sarah's daughter Jane complains:

This is disgraceful. I asked you not to invite [Wally.]

Unfortunately, as her mother had done years before, Sarah is highly ineffectual:

Moo likes him...it's her birthday...I don't think she's doing anything wrong.

JANE:

Have you looked, Mother?

SARAH:

No. Have you?

JANE:

Certainly not!

Like the rest of the family, Sarah and Jane would rather not know than deal with the reality of the situation. Jane's daughter Susan (rather young, we gather, but old enough to be impressionable) wonders that she has never seen her great-aunt before. While Jane says Moo travels a lot, it may well be that it is easier to deal with Moo from a distance because of her unconventional and scandalous behavior rather than live with her up close.

In essence, Moo has not changed a bit. In fact, she is also still obsessed by Harry, even though he has shot her in the head, forcibly committed her to an insane asylum, had affairs and remarried twice more, and disappeared for years, her world revolves around him—hence her ranting and throwing furniture at the end of the scene, when Harry's telegram arrives.

 

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karythcara's profile pic

Karyth Cara | College Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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One of the possibilities for reshaping emerging from this adolescent scene is that it is more possible for the audience to form the point of view and  to comprehend the sisters' points of view that Harry Parker ruined Moragh's life, though Moragh herself doesn't necessarily share this point of view.

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