When reading Westside Story, the words and sentences are not long and complex. They are short, quick, sharp and straight to the point.
Action: Chung chung!
A-Rab: Crako, jacko!
Snowboy: Riga diga dum!
Baby John: Pam pam!
These show what the play is trying to show, like why there is rivalry between the two gangs. The song fits in well with the play. The songs enhance the meaning and issue. Each song is different and provides certain beats and these fit in well with the particular song. The song is different; one might be to do with love, another with hatred, action or an emotional song. Each one is different, so the beat is always different. They can create tension or deepen the plot of the play. For example, when the Puerto Ricans sing, ‘America’. It fits in and shows their feelings, the words slip into one another to keep it running smoothly with no gaps.
The gang members use colloquial language, common language to them at that particular period in time. The Jets use a more type of language towards the other Jets, compared to the Sharks who use more of a serious tone. The Jest use phrases like, ‘Daddy-o’, ‘Buddy boy’, and when Tony and Riff talk and greet one another they both use the phrase, ‘Sperm to worm, Womb to tomb’. Whereas the Sharks use Spanish dialogue and use words like, ‘Un-poca’, ‘Querdia’ and ‘Buenos nochas’.
The colloquial language is maintained throughout the whole play to keep the desired effect on the audience.
The language works so well with each individual character because of the way it has been projected. For example, take Riff and make him the complete opposite of what he is, spoke quietly and didn’t use any meaning into what he said, it wouldn’t work as well.
Riff: Cut the frabbajabba… Riga tiga tum tum. Why not? You can’t say you won’t, Tony boy, without sayin’ why noy?… The Jest are the greatest!
Now try and think if Riff would even say anything like this if he was the opposite and even if he did say this it could have been said in a very sarcastic way and this wouldn’t suit Riff.
The language sets the scene for the play. For example, the scene when both gangs discuss the war council in the drugstore. Riff and Bernardo are the leaders in both individual gang and make the final decision on what ever they are discussing. Their language shows what the war council actually means.
“Riff: ‘We challenge you to a rumble. All out, once and for all. Accept?’
Bernardo: ‘On what terms’.
Riff: ‘Whatever terms you’re callin’, buddy boy. You have crossed the line once too often.’
These lines do help the audience understand a little bit better as to why the gangs behave the way they do and the language used helps to create the play as it makes up each character.
At the end of act one at the ‘rumble’ scene Tony screams the word, ‘MARIA!!!’ This leaves the audience in suspense as to what is going to happen next especially between his relationship between him and Maria. This is different to the way language is used compared to the way Bernardo and Riff talk to each other at the war council at the drugstore. Tony doesn’t want the fight to go ahead as he promised Maria and you can tell this by the way he talks and when he screams out Maria’s name his voice has changed completely and he has projected his voice much more. He I showing that he is in pain of what just happened. This shows the difference in the way that the language changes throughout the whole play.
Each song in the whole play helps the play to develop further. The songs sung by only one character could be seen as a monologue as they are communicating to the audience. The song Tony sings ‘Maria’. He sings this towards the audience ‘I’ve just met a girl named Maria’. It is as though he is talking to someone and this is the audience as no one else in one stage and he is singing this out towards the audience. It shows what the characters are feeling not only towards each other but to characters within the play itself.
The key to the play as a whole is the way all the characters interact with each other. The most powerful scene is towards the end of act two. This is because of what is said alters and changes the whole course of the play.
The character’s emotions have been explored in great detail from happiness to love to anger to disappointment and pride.
Happiness is shown when Maria and Tony first meet and fall in love and also at the very end for a split second when Tony realises that Maria isn’t dead and Maria still loves him no matter what and they run towards each other. Disappointment is shown through the play when both the Jets and the Sharks find out that Maria and Tony have fallen in love and this can also be seen as anger as well. Disappointment is shown when Tony thinks that Maria doesn’t love him anymore because of the fact that he killed her brother and anger is defiantly shown when Tony finds out that Chino has apparently shot and killed Maria and he goes looking for him.
In this particular scene even know the truth isn’t being told the character telling this may think this is for the best in long term. Just like when Tony is at the drugstore before the final scene with Doc explaining to him his future with Maria. Tony cannot realise that two lives have been lost through their love, one his best friend and the other Maria’s brother. Doc tries his best to tell Tony that him and Maria isn’t for the best, this just makes Tony want Maria even more. Doc does not play a key role in the play however he is a major one towards the end and changing the whole direction of the play. Doc thinks he has no choice and tells Tony; Maria has in fact been shot by Chino and now was dead. Shocked by this news, a different form of emotion that hasn’t been looked at in great detail is brought into this scene, his love dying away from him and his anger for the person who took it away from him.
We now know what Doc told Tony was untrue and we realise what he said and meant was for the best in his eyes.
The emotion shown between the characters show exactly how they are feelings and also shows and makes the audience what they are feeling as well, and this is what makes the play such a great success.