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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 13, No. 1. March 02, 1950

Old time stuff

Old time stuff

Of the play itself, it is more difficult to talk. Divorcing it from the ideas it expressed, the plot was rather conventionally melodramatic—the sudden conversion overlayed with the Sort of wisecracks which an Oxford don, trying desperately to make a play appeal to an audience used to Cochran and Coward, might be expected to use. The dialogue was good in parts: the adolescents seemed more at home in their dialogue than any of the adults, which may be a significant fact.

And for the ideas the play expressed? The theme of the play was almost wholly devoted to industrial relations, showing how disharmony and strife could be broken down by a willingness to admit error, a readiness to art the other fellow's point of view. The stubborn business man, the equally stubborn labour leader, both heated and opposed each other doggedly. Now it is all right, you say, to preach this philosophy of loving each other all of a sudden, of forgiving all past antagonisms. But how are you going to get people to do this so smartly? The play answered it by making the millionaire's son suffer (the audience, too, rather suffered at this point) a sudden conversion of spirit. From being a gay dog who came home (shoes in hand) in the morning, he changes to a conveniently serious deus ex machina in a matter of days: then, hey presto! he is available to go round converting everyone. Those who have no such convenient del to convert them may feel dubious still, but the play was presumably meant to do this for the audience. But still, one must be careful not to let something valuable slip lightly past in an easy cynicism. In fact, the play had a worthy contribution to make to present day thought. It said, in fact, that we are by no means likely to be infallible about our judgments: nor is the other bloke likely to be quite so completely fallible as we would wish to suppose. There was much mention of co-operation, of pulling together, of unity and understanding and so on. This was all rather annoyingly nebulous in aim and in manner of achievement—it appealed more to a generalised and vague herd instinct than to any moral sense which one might possess. However, one felt that over all, there was some good in the idea; certainly a great deal of the difficulty we face in international relationships comes from this stubbornness, or its larger counterpart, national pride. And certainly, one felt that the play was now getting somewhere. It was going to move on from preaching the smaller value of personal humility and understanding to the larger value of appreciating that the other nation is not so bad as it has been painted for us all this time; that we tend to think of the other nation in catch words, not on personal terms. Maybe, one even thought at this stage, it is going to finish up with the obvious logical conclusion—that by international understanding and abandonment of national pride, we will reach true world government. Ah, one thought, how mistaken I was about these people. They may be a little impractical in the optimism with which they hope this state of affairs will be reached, but there is no doubt that world government must come, and this is the way to get it.