Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 30, No. 10. 1967.
"The Lady From The Sea," a V.U.W. Drama Club production reviewed by P. Stevens.
"The scenery in the play was beautiful but the actors got in front of it . ." is the best that can be said for this production by David Williams. The plot of this drama by Ibsen deals with the morbid preoccupation of a woman. Ellida, for the sea, which to her symbolises the strange seaman who was her former lover, and whom she thinks will come one day to claim her, although she has since married a widower With two children.
Allowing for the difficulties of the inevitable loss in translation, nevertheless the general standard of acting was unconvincing with Linda Sacklin as Ellida appearing to be well above the rest of the cast in acting technique—not a difficult task. The rest of the players appeared to be under the impression that memorisation of their lines was all that was required of them, and the play suffered accordingly. The women in the cast were better at interpreting their parts than the men. Both Anita Woolf and Carol Phelps tried to inject some vitality into their lines, and Miss Woolf even managed to escape from the prevailing parrotfashion that seemed to be de rigeur for the rest of the cast.
Chris Rosie as Dr. Arnholm and Ken Laraman, as Lyngestrand the young artist, were not so fortunate. Michael McGhie, obviously enjoying his role as the elderly Jack-of-all-arts, Ballested, had also made an attempt at characterisation which showed some degree of understanding. The majority of the acting, was however dull and unoriginal. Paul Monod gave a rather wooden and unemotional performance as the mysterious stranger, in the face of which Ellida's fear of him seemed a trifle absurd.
In spite of the limitations of her fellow players. Miss Sacklin performed creditably. Her sense of timing was good, and her actions clear—only a certain gllbness in places led me to suspect that she had an imperfect understanding of the Job of the actress, which is to impersonate fully the part of another character, in every way, manners and mind. At times she was only a step away from over-acting, but this could well have been desperation at the efforts of her costar, Tony Lenart whose sense of presentation is nil.
Time and time again, Mias Sacklin would build the tension up to a climax, only to have the effect destroyed by Mr. Lenart, who, among other things had no idea of the value of an effective pause. He also seemed to be overcome by Miss Sacklin's high necked decolletage, or perhaps in spite of it, and resolutely kept his gaze averted when speaking directly to her, which did not help the credibility of the scene, and made lines like "We can't go on like this" sound, as if they were snipped directly from the sound track of a particularly bad Bgrade movie.
Still if the acting was sub standard, the stage set was first class. Peter Wichman is to be congratulated on his first ever attempt at stage design, and the Drama Club advised to retain his services. At least then audiences will get something for their money.
This latest production from the Drama Club poses several interesting problems, not only questions like "Will Mr. Lenart ever learn to stand upright on stage?", or "Is Miss Sacklin's technique merely a smooth veneer which hides an inadequate understanding of her role?" but also questions such as "Can the Drama Club be persuaded to remove Its head from the sand and realise that a drama workshop is needed where potential and aspiring actors can learn the skills of the craft before being inflicted on a paying audience?"
This latter question is one to which only the Committee has the answers, apparently. And they're not telling. Meanwhile—where are the Maarten van Dijks of yesteryear?