Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 20, No. 1. 4th March, 1957
Drama . . . — "The Far from Excellent History of the Merchant of Venice."
Drama . . .
"The Far from Excellent History of the Merchant of Venice."
"The Merchant of Venice" is a silly play, at times boring and ridiculous. It was with some trepidation that I went to see Richard Campion's last production for the Players. Let me state straightaway that I was not bored. Like so much of Mr. Campion's work there were two or three good points and the rest was frankly bad. The play came to life in two scenes in which the producer was not hindered by Raymond Boyce's messy sets. The end to the first act when Shylock knocks on his door waiting for his runaway daughter to let him in. The second scene when the production, the acting, and the set combined to make effective theatre was the scene when Shylock is being taunted by the Gentiles.
Why was Raymond Boyce allowed to design such sets? They wore clumsy, messy, and I should have thought completely impractical to tour with. I think we might have been spared the canal which looked like spilt paint, and balconies which made me fear for the safety of the actors. A simple semi-permanent set, without lota of Cecil Beaton drapes, would have been much more effective, and the audience would have been able to have heard some of the tab scenes, instead of crashes and bangs of the scene-shifters behind.
Mr. Lilbum's introductory music called to mind the "Journey Into Space" theme ("A Merchant of Venus?") and the trumpet pieces would have been more appropriate to the death scene in "Hamlet".
The play, from an actor's point of view, belongs to Shylock. John V. Trevor was excellent. He commanded one's attention as he slinked like Olivier's Richard III nround the stage. And in his downfall we pity him. The only other two actors with any merit were Sydney Falconer as Portia and Kenneth Adams as Launcelot Gobbo. Miss Falconer was a gay, delightful Portia, but her "quality of mercy" speech was forced and embarrassed. No doubt this was due to the fact that this was one speech that the audience knew and an unusual hush came over them when she began it. Kenneth Adams was an amusing Gobbo, though something might have been done about this costume, which mude him appear as if he were wearing a pair of "Jockey" underpants!
It was well worth seeing for these three performances.