Shoe Horn

John Misto, the creator of the Australian play ‘The Shoe-Horn sonata’ and the film ‘Paradise Roads’ by Bruce Beresford allows the audience to ‘see’ with both our eyes and our minds.
‘The shoe horn sonata’ uses distinctly visual techniques to highlight the past distinctive experiences during World War II, shared by two friends, Sheila and Bridie. Through the use of powerful dialogue, and engaging dramatic techniques, Misto explores, through their testimonies, the untold story of hundreds and thousands of women imprisoned by the Japanese in South East Asia . Misto features the play around the recounts and flashbacks of Bridie, an Australian army nurse, and Sheila, a young English girl both of whom were captured and sent to prisoner of war camps under the Japanese authority. Both the film and the play discusses the themes of failure of the military and government authorities, as well as the will to survive, the revelation of truth and the power of friendship are outlined in this drama.

Set in the present, the play consists of fourteen scenes. Misto uses juxtaposition as the dialogue consists of both private and public conversations which create powerful links between the public and private voices and emotions between the two characters. The action cuts between two settings: a television studio and a Melbourne motel room. The opening scene shows Bridie re-enacting the kowtow, a tribute to the emperor of Japan. [Bridie stands in a spotlight. She bows stiffly from the waist, and remains in this position.] Stage directions allow the readers to visualise exactly how the composer wants it to be performed. The reader is able to share their experiences, and feels engaged with Bridie at this point. Misto uses photographic images, projected on a screen behind Bridie to support the dialogue. [On the screen behind Bridie are projected several 1940 posters for the Women’s Army. These are followed by photographs of the Australian army nurses disembarking in Singapore]. This...