by Abram Yarbro, dramaturg
See How They Run is quintessentially English. One of the reasons the play has been so successful is because of its cheery dialogue on English personalities, manners, and customs. For example, Miss Skillon is conservative and proper and Reverend Toop never intends to offend. The comedy comes when we see the English manner and propriety stretched to the breaking point as problems build and misunderstandings compound. Contrast this with our two American “yanks”, Penelope and Clive, who don’t care much for English propriety and often offend those who do.
Jumping into rehearsals this week, we’ve become quite preoccupied with the accents (and this show has some fun ones!). Visit rehearsals and you “shant” be surprised to hear us all chatting in our British accents, just for the fun of it.
So what accents do we have in the show? The Reverend Lionel Toop, Miss Skillon, and most of the other characters tend to speak “received pronunciation” or what is often referred to as a standard English accent, Ida has a delightful cockney accent, Clive and Penelope have an American accent, and our Russian has, you guessed it, a Russian accent. This all leads to great fun in the rehearsal room and even our director, Barta Heiner occasionally joins in with a cockney accent of her own.
Britain is filled with accents, hear some of the most popular here.
The script has some funny words and learning how to pronounce them in the correct accent can be quite a feat! Can you pronounce these words from the script in the standard “received pronunciation” accent? What about cockney?
YouTube has some great pronunciation guides if you’re having trouble. Listen close, practice a bit, and soon you too will be able to sound very… British!