Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Student's Newspaper. Volume 31 Number 2. March 12, 1968
Alexei Arbuzov's "The Promise", V.U.W. Drama Club's first production for 1968, failed completely to live up to its name on Saturday.
The 20th Century melodrama is set, somewhat arbitrarily, in Leningrad during and after World War II.
From start to finish it was too sentimental, corny, and hollow for even the most willing in the audience to suspend their disbelief.
The plot is a varialion on a well thrashed theme— a girl and two young men are thrown together by the circumstances of war (the terrible reality of which is suggested by periodic explosions and bursts of gunfire backstage).
Sooner or later she is forced to make a choice between them. She does so and the rejected one stifles his tears and goes off to build bridges.
After six bridges and 13 years he returns and proclaims general disillusionment (comrade civil servant Arbuzov must have had his heart in his mouth writing this part)—all three realise their adolescent ambitions have failed and decide a change of husband for the heroine is the only decent way out.
Perhaps an experienced company could have brought some style, if not pointfulness, to such a hapless script but this production (bar one or two lighting effects and a good set) had nothing.
Margaret Brew was just a little loo physically unprepossessing for the heroine's role.
All three actors were too nervous and diffident for the thing to work at all—I got the impression they were in sympathy with the audience and didn't believe it either.