A tiny perfect scene with Hope and Mary in Thursday’s episode. At the Community Centre, Mary is doing face-painting for kids. She paints Hope’s face like the Lion King. Tyrone and Mary ask her in their best nursie voices if she likes it, and Hope nods.
Then Mary takes Hope’s teddy and puts him in her lap. Will we do Mr. Teddy now? She holds the paintbrush dangerously close to Teddy’s fluffy face. Hope firmly shakes her head no. Mary tosses Teddy and glares at Hope as if the child had just spoiled all her fun. She cleans the paint off her hands and gives Hope one final filthy look.
Child actors on Corrie are rarely expressive. Most are more like props than participants. Adult actors must convey the emotion for both themselves and the child. Whether it’s happiness or fear, the adult actor shows it strongly enough that, it is hoped, we overlook the child’s total lack of response. If need be, the adult says how the child is feeling. ‘Can’t you see X is terrified?’ Or ‘X loves it, don’t you sweetie.” If you watch the child closely, don’t be surprised if you cannot tell. But you likely will stay more focussed on the adult actor, and so will believe that X is scared or happy. It’s sleight of hand: watch what’s happening here and you don’t think about what’s happening, or isn’t, over there.
Lovely as she is, young Hope is no exception in her acting skills. But the overdone and underdone interplay between Mary and Hope was a LOL moment for me. It worked because Mary uses the nursie voice of encouragement with everyone. And when thwarted, she reacted as she does with anyone. She took it as a personal slight and repaid the child with a withering look.
Hope was the catylst for another lovely scene on Friday. I’ve been dreading the storyline of Hope’s illness, because it’s about a sick child but also because it will provide ample opportunity for Fiz to flip out. And she has been. But in telling Roy the diagnosis, she was as quiet as he. They worked beautifully off each other. The sadness and fear was almost palpable, done with few words and restrained gestures. I enjoyed it, savoured it even, knowing it may be the only understated scene with Fiz that we’ll see in this story.
And, in case anyone is keeping count, another big soap cliché on Wednesday. Robert says to Tracy “tell them” as she, Carla, Michelle and Nick talk about the fire. And none of the three think to say “tell them what?”