Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 33, No. 1 18 February 1970
Random Ramblings about a Right Good Review
Random Ramblings about a Right Good Review
Ever reviewed a play six weeks after the event? Ever reviewed a Revue six weeks after? The whole thing becomes a melange of pleasurable moments, irrelevant details (such as sitting next to the irrepressible Fred Page—where does that man get his youth from? His wicked sense of humour? His ability to make one feel enjoyment when in his company?), distorted recollection, and memory-blackouts.
And how was I to know, when writing to David Smith to thank him for the show, that the pianist named in the programme was the wrong one and that the marvellous musician was none other than David himself? Rather nice, I should think, to be asked to pass on compliments only to find that they came to rest on one's own doorstep.
The sheer good taste of the show threw me a little. Revue, by its very satirical nature, is usually so unfair. Heads topple, foibles are exploited, weaknesses exposed. All this happened, of course, but it was all grounded in simple truth. Tell it like it is, they must have decided, and so they did. Catholics seemed to be a fairly constant target. I wondered if a Catholic wrote most of the show. Catholics can often be quite trenchant about themselves. A sort of public self-flagellation, I suppose. Irish-Catholics, anyway, and if the second-to worst sketch was something of a bore, maybe Irish-Catholics are a boring lot to make sketches about. I, for one, would find it very difficult to get worked up about it if Ireland were to sink gracefully into the sea, taking its inhabitants with it. It would seem that anybody who is anybody in Ireland has already emigrated, anyway. The worst sketch was set in the papal palace, and the reason for that is all too obvious. Nothing that these talented scriptwriters could dream up could equal the fatuity that has emanated from His Eminence over the last few years. Don't get me wrong—some of my best friends.......
Loved the high-kickers. Deidre Tarrant's cheoreography was first-rate, although a tendency to exploit certain repetitive galvanic movements needs to be watched. The use of back-projection lent a sort of lyrical urgency to the dancing. (Well, I did say "a sort of", and, anyway, why should a reviewer have to explain away the occasional felicitous phrase? I hate picky readers.)
Paul Gnatt, in the Ballet Company's heyday, used to insist that his male dancers dance like men. Deidre Tarrant's men did. I got a little bored with the girls' dog-paddle movement, but I loved them for everything else. So did Fred. Fred and I both loved them. I was a little disappointed with the lack of venom when it came to parodying the Brown and White Minstrels. Some of those steps that go on and on and on! This was one occasion when the dancing was too good for the material that was being satirised.
I went on the second night and was rather surprised, comparing the size with last year, how large the audience was. Word of mouth about a good show sure travels fast. The cast was still having some trouble with their royal "Coronation Street"—a very funny number—but I expect (reviewers have to say this at least once in their column) this was ironed out as the season went on.
What a long way Bill Evans has come. Didn't think him so funny last year (and thought his review of my production earlier in the year even less funny), But he has assumed a respectable control over his material and, what is more important, his audience. Probably the best in it, (Of course I hate saying it. Wouldn't you hate being the victim of callow comment? But fair's fair, I always say. What do you always say?).
You have guessed it all right, you clever lot. I am writing this without the aid of a programme. That's why I can't put a name to all that solo stuff with the guitar, even though the name will come back to me in the dark reaches of the night, and even though I thought it all of an extraordinarily high calibre. The mood that was created! Hardly seems nice to suggest that we were treated to exactly one item too many.
Would have liked to see more of David. He is a funny chap, even though he elects to stay within a fairly narrow range of comedy. He was certainly the best thing in In View Of The Circumstances. Not being a star, I suppose he received less rehearsal than the others, and didn't have His Own Thing completely laundered out of him.
How do I know that it is the best review I have seen in some time? Because I have been in lots of reviews, that's why, and I have seen lots of them, that's why, and even if the finale was bad, it wasn't as excruciatingly bad as so many finales can be (last year's for instance).
What a refreshing change to go to a show where the cast appeared to like the people they were playing to, where the entertainment of us, not themselves, was of primary importance. If the girls this year weren't, all in all, as good as the boys, that's how it goes some years, Although the little Chinese girl could have stepped right out of the Rolf Harris chorus line. For all I know, she did. That's the way it goes—anyone else steps out of line, and they've had it. This may not be a good review, but it's a hell of a lot of fun to write. And it's making me pathologically happy (and who doesn't enjoy their manic phases?) causing all this confusion about review and revue and review.
I missed the nude scene. I blinked rapidly in preparation, getting, as it were, my blinkers out of the way, but what with some crucial mis-timing by the cast, I flunked the course. Generally, though, the timing (oh, how subtly I return to the raison d'etre for this article!) was of a high order. High caliber, Professional standard, Whatever phrase it is that reviewers use to describe something that was pretty good. Felicitous would be a good word, but I've used it higher up.
Yes, dear hearts, those of you who stayed at home missed a good show. Fred and I both thought it a good show. And I would take his opinion before I took my own. Come to think of it, why wasn't he asked to write this review? He's a writty duck.
I hope the show was well received when it went down South, and that everyone had a good time. They deserved it. So let's all stand on our seats and cheer David Smith and his writers and his actors and his dancers and his musicians and that clever Bill Turner in the lighting box, but, most of all, let's cheer David Smith.