Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 15, No. 14. July 24, 1952
Our Critic A Ham?
Our Critic A Ham?
Sir,—It is with considerable trepidation that we venture to question the ability of your most eminent dramatic critic. However, we feel that we must, with all due reverence raise our humble voices in a gentle query at such phrases as "the insidious influence of Laurence Olivier's film version of this play." What may we respectfully inquire, is "insidious" in the influence of Olivier's film, and, of more concern to our perplexed innocence, what is "the conventional Shakespearean production routine which tends to make all interprelations alike"?
We ask merely for information; and may we now bombard your drama critic with flowers and applause, for the mass of brilliantly unconventional and startingly realistic imagery which has been so skilfully worked into his composition.
We are deeply envious. As far as his critical opinion is concerned, the near-perfect Robin King was certainly simple and unsophisticated; the gravedigger's scene the more memorable, though not. perhaps, to anyone of any intelligence. We were particularly intrigued with watching what we now learn to have been a gazelle, fencing.
In conclusion we congratulate your critic, respectfully asking whether, after last week's rhetorical effusions, he will soon attempt to write a critical review of "Hamlet."—Humbly yours.
Der Kritik's Spook.
Dear Kritick's Spook,—For your perplexed information—I called the influence of the film "Hamlet" insidious because, apparently unlike yourself. I have seen a large number of locally-produced plays since that film was here. The number of Jean Simmonses and especially Lawrence Oliviers that have appeared in Wellington drama circles as a result since then would raise even your humble eyebrows. This influence has also gone a long way towards standardising Shakespearean production technique your second query-Present-day producers, instead of working out out the play from first principles are far too inclined to copy previous productions. Thus Laertes is usually a boor. Ophelia a rather hardened character, or we perennially get Hamlet's "bare bodkin" during his soliloquy, to name a few cases.
I am perfectly certain that I could fill fifty editions of Salient." if I wanted to, with a criticism of this play, but space is limited so I have theerfore picked out the points that appear to be to be the most significant and which violate or meet my particular ideals of dramatic art. Thus I consider a harangue on the curtain-call habits of the Repertory were important than a dissertation on the fencing ability of Peter Varley.
It appears from what you have said that my use of imagery is equalled only by your ability in the use of irony. If you like I shall review the next play that appears in Wellington in sombre straight-laced English, and you will have the ineffable distinction of being the only person at V.U.C. who will read it. Possibly I could be more to the point by omitting all imagery, but by doing so I would automatically go one step further towards making drama a specialised art.
Finally, thank you for casting an aspersion on my intelligence. I have found that it helps one's case tremendously by doing so.