SMAD. An Organ of Student Opinion. 1936. Volume 7. Number 8.
"Brave New Zealand"
"Brave New Zealand"
And what can we say of "Brave New Zealand?"
We might have been apprehensive, even pessimistic, about an Extravaganza which was the maiden effort of its Author, After the sucessful hits of Redmond Phillips, who first gave us something better in Extravs, we might pardonably have shaken our heads and doubted.
There was no need, however, for Ron Meek has written a really good show. To be sure, he was assisted by Messrs. Gilber, Sullivan and Huxley. And this would have been unpardonable, had his verse not been as crisp as Gilbert's, and thus not suited itself so admirably to Sullivan's music; had his situations not been as convincing as Huxley's and the whole thing entertaining and amusing right through. We congratulate him unreservedly.
Difficulties of Staging.
As in the past three or four years, colour and picturesqueness predominate. Indeed it ranks, with "Medea and Soda" as Joey Mountjoy's best production. Meek, who has not yet anything like the stagecraft of Phillips, presented his producer with a number of difficult scenes in which too many people crowd the stage and have to remain, without particular purpose, while the plot is worked out in dialogue by one or two principals. This process is too often a long business in rhymes and couplets, requiring the action of the play to be held up, and on Saturday evening was accentuated by several factors.
First and foremost, there was a noticeable lack of choesion between the choruses and the orchestra. Often one would be as much as a whole bar behind the other, the effect being the reverse of pleasing. Again it seemed that each member of the cast was determined to have at least one prompt; even the most reliable of them falling down on their lines. It was apparent that the cast had a mild form of stagefright, and this of course will right itself in good time.
Highlights of the Show.
One or two things stood out in a show full of good ideas. There was the men's ballet, reminiscent of "Top Hat," with Rangi Logan as a most competent soloist. And the "Feelie" Ballet. McGhie, the Oracle of two years ago, was always convincing and impressive. The part of Gee Bee fits him perfectly. With his characteristically dry manner and method of speech, it is virtually no effort for him to make a success of it.
Simpson and Christesen were beautifully imperturbable. We shan't forget the way they faced the music after having forgotten the last verse of the "Companies Act." To improvise in rhymed verse is not an easy thing and they wisely and very funnily continued the song with a "Tra, la la la."
The rest of the cast was fair. Cora Duncan's ballets were good all through, and beautifully dressed.
Joey's handling of the crowds, his colours and lighting, and the arrangement of the choruses were also a very memorable part of the show which, as we have intimated, bids fair to keep up the standard set in recent years.