Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 11, No. 6. June 3rd, 1948
Review of Production By Last Year's Producer
Review of Production By Last Year's Producer
When I approached the problem of writing a commentary upon this year's Extravaganza I realized that it was the first one I had seen from the front since "Adam Baba and the Forty Leagues" and that in fact I had no sound basis of comparison with past shows, but merely a perhaps too critical, producer's eye. Then again as I appreciate only too well the mass of work entailed in its production I could not help feeling that, "For the time they've got over that difficulty very well," or "That is an immense improvement on the dress rehearsal," so that between my critical eye and amazement at the final excellence compared with the initial script it may be possible to arrive at some useful conclusions.
Any performance must, I believe, be judged on the total impression it creates and for me and it appeared the majority of the audience on the night I was there, the total impression was an agreeable one. The audience rocked with laughter, albeit somewhat shocked laughter at times, and although the show dragged a little towards the end, I heard nothing but favourable comments from those around me.
The most pleasing feature of the whole show was undoubtably the singing. The words of the choruses could actually be heard and the audience laughed at words used in the choruses. This itself is a great achievement and much credit must go to the cast and producers for the painstaking work such an effect must have required.
The Hells Belles handled their choral work well and danced, to a degree with accuracy but I still ride my favourite hobby horse that doubtful lines should not be given to university women, if they put them across it sounds unpleasant, but in most cases they can't put them across.
The Brownies certainty supplied the liveliest, if somewhat undisciplined, fun of the evening. They so obviously enjoyed the parts themselves that the audience enjoyed their enjoyment as much as their act. Robert McNicol's mistimed jumps were a stroke of genius.
The two best single performances were undoubtedly those of Geoff "Graveside" and Arch Barclay. Both had pleasant singing and speaking voices, the former (I prefer to use "former" names are so uncertain these days) had perhaps the better stage presence.
Jeff Stewart's tunes were bright and appropriate. I found "Oh What a Jubilant Peater" particularly attractive but felt that "I am a Spy" was perhaps the best original tune of the show but suffered from the fact that the atmosphere was not appropriate at the time it was introduced.
The Brick Bats
Of the weaknesses the most outstanding was, for me, that incident followed incident in such a way that some appeared unfinished when those on stage were literally crowded out by those in the next incident. The script helped to produce this effect by lack of real continuity but I feel the producers could have managed the crowds more carefully and perhaps introduced a line which would allow them to retire more gracefully from the limelight than they did.
The canning machine was a good idea but was perhaps a little clumsy and the name tags could, I believe, have been improved upon.
The Miss Enzed Contest was good as far as it went. It had some of the brightest lines in the script but more could have been made of it. The contestants appeared overlooked and superfluous once they had completed their parts. Perhaps a smaller stage and a dias for the contestants would have helped, it is difficult to say. The contestants themselves played their parts well, Jeff Stewart was, as usual, extremely convincing.
It is unfortunate that the dressing was killed to such a marked degree by the lighting. The Hell backdrop, in which Will Conroy put his best, formed an excellent setting for bright dressing but it appeared to me that too much red was introduced into the lights and so many of the colours were neutralized. This helps to show the necessity for two dress rehearsals, a habit followed by many amateur societies, one of which could be devoted to the correlation of lighting, costuming and other technical matters.
As I have said there was a tendency for the show to drag towards the end. Much of the banquet scene could possibly have been cut and the rest incorporated in the Hell scene. The banquet scene also lost colour by the appearance of many people in ordinary dress. Ordinary dress in itself is of course, not a bad thing, but an extra dress reherasal would have given the producers an opportunity to arrange the costumed and non-costumed in a more pleasing way.
One could continue indefinitely praising and blaming. The good work done by the councillors I have omitted, but as I have already said a show stands or falls on the total impression it creates. Apart from many adverse criticisms of lavatory humour this one has been well received and if it is taken to Napier should receive a tumultuous reception.
J. R. McCreary.