Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 2. 8th March 1972
Drama & T.V. — The Knack & How to Get It
Drama & T.V.
The Knack & How to Get It.
— season ends 11th March
Imagine if you will, a play that purports by title to provide every man's manual for sexual success. The Knack (and how to get it) is neither salvation for the sexually incompetent nor a jerks journey through Disney's fantasy land. The play is however a finely tuned set of characterisation and observations of the sexually incompetent), the country girl come recently to London, and the man of mode. Interposed between these three is the resident madman. This character — eminently likeable, provides the fulcrum for the change in relationships between the other three.
Generally the performance and production of Ann Jellicoe's play is of a very high standard. Showing the classical unities of time and place the setting is a somewhat shabby and singularly disorganised house in London. Colin (the sexually frustrated landlord) lives with Tom (the madman) and Tolen is man given to womanising and boasting of his sexual achievements, Tolen is a man who would never allow a female superior in his bed or any of his sexual exploits. She will grovel and he will command the situation.
Colin fascinated by these carnal proclivities of his cohabitant begs to be taught the knack. Yet Tolens success is built more on lengh (imagined or actual) rather than depth, his ability is not of the sort that could be passed on by instruction. Colins is not the sort of problem that could be solved by instruction. Tolens brand of sexual imperialism is not medicine for Colin's hangups. Tom is partly annoyed tho' largely disgusted and at once thoroughly amused by Tolen. Tom too displays a remarkable knack - not the same as: Tolen's for Tom's knack is an ability to annoy Tolen.
Frank Edwards as Tom is certainly the outstanding medieval performer, his outlandish behaviour is not as trying as one might expect when first the play begins. In fact it is Tom who provides the norm, the safety of the man in between. Edward's performance is surely one of the best given at University recently.
Teresa Woodham is a brilliantly hysterical Nancy. She must have quite a remarkable stamina to maintain a part at such a pitch, for after an initially and unfortunately demure meeting with the lads her only weapon, attraction and defence, is hysteria. Splendid acting and as. with Tom, splendid athletics.
Andrew Wilson as Colin some found a little out of place and in that he and Nancy should have had far more in common than we discovered, so he was. The performance was however far better than that comment would indicate, for Andrew Wilson was remarkably unsure of himself and utterly adolescent as he licked the carnal crumbs so carelessly that were tossed to him by Tolen. Wilson's part though not requiring the stamina of Nancy was in many ways the most difficult. It fell on Colin to give the play credibility, for it was his problem at issue. Wilson gave life to his role and consequently gave the play both sense and direction.
It was however on Tolen that the play foundered to some extent. As I understand the role Tolen should not be immediately dislikeable. Indeed he should be full of attractive arrogance and roguery. In short Tolen must be anything but a slob. The director I felt was at fault in this characterisation. Tolen was too articulate to be portrayed as a milkbar cow-boy. Since the director could not cast himself in the role, he over compensated.
However certainly one of the best University productions of recent years. Not one of the societies almost habitual epics but artistically a production to see and be proud of.