Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 2, No. 16. August 2, 1939
Dramatic Club's Gaucherie
Dramatic Club's Gaucherie
Firstly, and frankly. "Flickering Light" bored us. We require for our appetite something a little more enticing. Perhaps it is from lack of exercise—but fortune-tellers, poisoned amulets and so on, when sat down to cold, are fearfully stodgy. And we were not made to feel happy, because the actors were definitely not happy either, or at their ease. The happiness and enjoyment of the cast is, of course, half the battle, especially if they are not capable of much else.
The producer was, may we venture to suggest, a little unwise in selecting a play that called for fine acting when he was limited in the scope at his disposal. A play with plenty of action would have obviated his difficulty. But unfortunately this was a most inactive, even. In fact, nonchalant piece, especially as, regards the part of Bobble, which was played by Doris Stephenson. She gave us an impression of affectedness rather than of acting. We were forced to wonder once or twice what she was going to do with that delightfully abbreviated skirt of hers. But of course nothing happened, and it was quite fun.
In the setting the producer succeeded with a simple and co-ordinate stage. Otherwise, there was nothing else in "Flickering Light" requiring mention.
Down in the Pit
Owing to a slight alteration in the programme (or a frantic unreadiness behind the scenes) we were next treated to some "Danger." a June Cummins production. Now there was something original and clever in this, though perhaps obscurely. . . in a play such as this the audience is asked to create a tremendous amount—inside its own head. We point this out because it is partly on this Imaginative ability that the success of the production depends. No imagination, no success. As it fortunately happened, we turned out to be quite vivid-minded on Friday night. The slightest suggestion . . .
The curtain rises—or rather, is heard to rise—on a perfectly black stage, while we sit in more perfect blackness. Round the voices issuing from the void (nominally, a Welsh coal-pit) we are required to construct everything, with, of course, the aid of indispensable tin-can noises (falling coal, we presume) and screams and exclamations from the poor heroine. The men utter only soothing noises. Interesting, though, considering the darkness. The three persons carry on an animated soliloquy on death, which is pretty Imminent in their position. The result is not a play, but a number of exceedingly vivid and entertaining mental pictures.
In presenting to us our last treat the producer it seemed had deliberately catered for our appetite. To him then in that case we must confers to a perverse change of appetite. Unfortunate, is it not? But his fare is not as pleasing to our palate as it used to be. This may be due to our formerly having rather overeaten ourselves. We found his "Where's That Bomb?" to be, in parts, like the curate's egg, highly unpleasant. Of course it drew laughter. What bit of vulgarity won't? But personally, lyrics written on the sewer never cut much Ice with us.
We remark here that the characters were particularly well cast, and played their parts with fervid gusto. It was a pity his landlady was in the room at the time, otherwise Joe might not have felt constrained to dress part of himself behind the arm-chair, or to carry out ablutions on the face and hands, only. Fright-fully inconvenient for him, and awfully inconsiderate of her. But lucky for us.)
Bonk Scotney we discovered as more orator than actor. Hero shows a germinating seed of oratory which, if carefully tended, may grow into a fine—or perhaps even a dangerous—plant. He showed an unwillingness to settle down to the serious parts, and found simply sitting with the head in the hand easiest. He was good, however. In hurling invective, and in the more blasphemous parts. The thumb Jerked forcefully towards the thorax in that gesture of self-indication was recognised thankfully as an old characteristic, in no wise impaired by the stage.
Of course "chaste." "pure.' "rape. "Red" and such like have become regular stock-in-the-box 'Varsity words. So they pall when consistently thrown at us from the stage. Every little fresher comes out with them, the same as he comes out in spots' on his chin. It is part of his development. But in heaven's name, must we so triumphantly advertise our every stage of normal development. As we did in this gauche display? We are, it must be admitted, a considerable time in developing a sense of subtlety.
That is chiefly why the "Bomb did not please or excite us as much as had been anticipated, by its retarded producer.
What we Want
We as the play-goers, must be the determining factor on the quality of productions. It appears, therefore, that when productions such as the three we witnessed on Thursday and Friday nights, although having their certain merits, and being put on before us time and time again with something very far from anything meritorious, they are what we desire. Ever so faintly, we protest.
We are sorry to have misunderstood ourselves so grossly and for so long. But we are now no longer in so dangerously an uncritical state of mind, and with all respect to our, we believe capable Dramatic Club, we demand of it entertainment with a little polish and subtlety, even if, in its change from the slap-dash. It takes longer in production.