The Spike: or, Victoria College Review, 1939
The annual capping revue was held this year in the Wellington Opera House, on April 22, 24, 26, 27. The show took the satisfactory form of recent years, that is, an opening song and dance, two short burlesques of differing types, and a second half composed of the usual political extravaganza. This arrangement though open to some objections has many advantages and appears to be the most desirable.
It can be safely said that the capping shows of recent years have been riding on the crest and this has been reflected in packed houses. The talent and enthusiasm has never been greater and enthusiasm is essential for the tremendous tasks undertaken by literally dozens of people who spring forward each year to do the preliminary work, and who ask for no publicity or reward except the pleasure of helping the show and perhaps "cracking one or two together." This is the spirit that makes for success in the shows and is more important than all the ballerinas and baritones ever assembled. It is to be hoped that the crest of this particular wave is not followed by a deep trough.
Of the shows the "spectral prelude,' a well-thought-out curtain-raiser, embodying ghosts of previous shows, did not quite reach expectations though it was quite a promising beginning. It was written by Ron Meek and produced by Hilary Henderson.
Those venerable anonymities, the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, who, we understand, had been completely overhauled and renovated, again raised their imposing structure to support another chapter in the Book of Adam. This time our friend was in Wonderland, complete with kilts and gamp. The local political satire was intended to be witty and succeeded in being very funny. Actually it was done on excellent broad lines with enough detail to hang together and give a most entertaining half-hour. This is the best form of show for entertainment even though it is lacking in finesse and subtlety. The satire was plain and some of it very well written but it was done with confident good-humour and so was very effective. It was produced with efficiency by Jack Aimers assisted in the ballet work by Marie Fletcher, who also scored a personal triumph as first emergency.
This was followed by the inevitable John Carrad with a most accomplished cast in "The Dinkum Oil," a burlesque musical comedy. The entire show was again engineered by the maestro himself with the exception of the ballets which were splendidly done by Hilary Henderson. In this was the star turn of the evening, the pas deux, a piece of fooling in the very best extrav. style which very properly brought the house down.
The second half of the programme was composed of a political extravaganza introducing everything from magic to cowboys, from dinosaurs to Snow White, from Hit and his Adolmaniacs to the Druids, This was a clever and biting satire. It was bitter and fierce in places and there is no doubt that it struck home, as was obvious from certain reactions of a hysterical or even pathological jingoism expressed in a certain quarter. However, though this show was exceedingly clever, it was lacking in humour in places and thus lost some of its deserved appeal. That it was well worth the effort goes without saying. This type of show leaves a good impression with the intelligent members of the audience but it would have been more effective still if the humour had been more direct in places and if more laughs had relieved the slower scenes. "The Vikings" was written by Ron Meek and the production by Ralph Hogg was very effective. The large choruses were well arranged and drilled and the show where it was possible moved with a swing. The magic scene was a little unnecessary and not very effective and also tended to slow up the action. Other incidental turns however were particularly neat and though almost interpolations gave the whole affair much variety. I refer of course to the excellent scenes with Terry Dactyl with his Dinosaur boys and to Denny and Dinah, probably the two most efficient actors of the evening. So Tite's scenes with the Dwharfies was also very good variety.page 39
The Vikings chief virtues lay in its variety and its excellent songs, many by Ron Meek and Dick Hutchens and its weaknesses lay in the very worthy seriousness of its theme. Of those responsible for the various jobs, special mention must be made of the wardrobe which must have been a nightmare job.
This review cannot give credit to all the good points nor to the individuals but as I have already said those most deserving of praise hardly appear even on the programme. However the Capping book "Cappicade," gives all the details and it must remain as the permanent record rather than these sketchy remarks.
A final thought, in optimistic vein—Herr Adolf, who has been such a reliable source of material for extravaganzas in the past, has done one more good service to V.U.C. The report is that he has effectively cut short Ron Meek's scholarship jaunt and that we may see next year another biting attack on the Fuehrer, this time perhaps with the personal venom of a disappointed travelling scholar. We have no doubt of the ability of the Seven Pillars to support a sixteen-pounder shell, a tent, a candle and enough energy to produce their Centennial effort. The right of students to express themselves should not be questioned and next year may produce another capping revue of the same high standard as its recent predecessors.