Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32. No. 25. October 9, 1969
Drama — Funny People in Xmas Revue
Funny People in Xmas Revue
I sort of feel I shouldn't be reviewing the Teacher's College Drama Club's presentation of "Time of your Life". It seemed so much like a bunch of well-intentioned kids in a private performance, that any criticism seems carping. They deserve a nice write-up in the "Evening Post", one feels, Saroyan's play has little dramatic action or unity, and lots of vignettes casually strung together. It's sometimes mildly funny and has enough variety to keep from being boring. People keep asking questions, but don't bother much about the answers. Everyone in it is nice, except the bad policeman who gets shot in the end anyway (we don't quite know why, but he does). This sort of play needs consistently strong acting from the whole cast, which was what this one couldn't give; but they were all such nice young people I don't feel like saying any more than that. One or two of them were even good. And the set design was very attractive. But I do think it's unwise to try to present a play in accents with actors so young. Better to let the audience suspend their disbelief.
Unity's recent "Six Characters in Search of an Author" was pretty awful. Pirandello's play a masterpiece, very dramatic and influential. This production was contrived, cluttered, badly acted and had been ferociously "up-dated". In fact it was almost an illustration of one of the situations in the play; that is, the inability of theatre people to really understand and express the reality behind the script. There were good points about it. The picturisation was good, some moments were very powerful (e.g. the entrance of the characters) and one felt the producer had had some good ideas; but his actors weren't good enough, and he hadn't done enough solid work on character with them. And it was positively embarrassing to hear joking references to Downstage all the time. Life a beggar thrusting his wounds in your face.
Last night Arthur Miller's latest play should have opened at Downstage. Anthony Croser's production of it features Clenis Levistam, Ray Henwood, Matt O'Sullivan and Fred Betts. It could well be worth popping into before exams.
And what about next year? There will be a couple of important new faces around when the Drama II unit is functioning, and when Downstage has a new resident producer. The Drama Club with Unity and others are organising a Shakespeare Festival mid-year. Unity is doing Richard III, the Drama Club Macbeth, there'll be displays, lectures and maybe films at the Lido. It's a pity though, that our contribution has to be an old war-horse like Macbeth, when there are plenty of very good Shakespeares in English syllabuses that deserve revival just as much as "Look Back in Anger" (Orientation play—auditions soon). Of course the box-office is a factor, and Macbeth is a popular play, and likely to attract school parties. But it is foolish to attempt such a play when so far there aren't any sudent actors around with ability, experience and stature enough to play Macbeth and his lady. If there were, that would be a good reason for trying to mount the play. A friend of mine reckons that if they want to do it well, the club should hire professional actors like Grant Tilly or Anne Flannery to play the title roles, and students the rest, like Burton and Taylor in Faustus at Oxford. This would be very exciting, make the play a more valuable artistic achievement and might (this is addressed to the Committee) be an even greater box-office draw.
Finally, please remember to go to "Santa Claws", this year's Christmas Revue, in the theatre from December 15th to the 20th. Dave Smith, an incredibly hilarious person, is producing it, and the cast is full of funny people. Happy Hols, tinies!page 24 page 25