- Mrs Johnstone’s background is explained to the audience in the song, Marilyn Monroe. She “once had a husband” who she met while out dancing. He flattered her, saying that she was “…sexier than Marilyn Monroe”, who was a very famous film star of the 1950s.
- There is no mention of a relationship beyond “dancing”, but soon there is an unplanned pregnancy, followed by a quick wedding at a registry office.
- At the time, it was considered immoral to have a child outside of marriage, so there was often great pressure on young couples to do so.
- Three months after the baby is born, Mrs Johnstone is pregnant again. Her husband begins to reject her, refusing to “go dancing”, saying that she is “…twice the size of Marilyn Monroe”.
- The stress of life quickly ages Mrs Johnstone, who says “By the time that I was twenty-five, I looked like forty-two”. This is an example of Russell’s lyrics working well with the form: the same actor plays the part throughout, so by the time the play ends, she will be much older.
- By having her tell us that she looks older than her years, we accept that the actor is older than Mrs Johnstone at the start of the play.
- This brings us to the point at which the action of the play begins. She has got seven children by now and is nearing the end of another pregnancy. Her husband left “…a month or two ago” for a younger woman who “…looks a bit like Marilyn Monroe”.