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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 9, No. 2. March 20, 1946

Talented Players and Slick Dialogue in Mr. Bolfrey

Talented Players and Slick Dialogue in Mr. Bolfrey

The introduction was, to say the least, highly unconventional, but then, by all standards, he was an unpredictable character. The small room was suddenly possessed by a Presence, the powers of darkness pressed in on us, there was a crash of thunder and a blinding light, and the unspeakable one manifested himself, top-hatted, impeccable, with umbrella poised in delicate fingers, but in his eyes flashed the fires of hell. When the screaming was over, and we had controlled our anxiety neurosis—always aggravated by these untimely pyrotechnics—the unreality of the situation became apparent, and a swift curtain terminated it none too soon for us.

It seems the Celtic twilight is traditionally thronged with uncanny influences, from leprechauns to what have you, and the excuse for the whole action is that anything can happen in the highlands and this time it did. However, it is rather unreasonable to us that a combination or little doglatin and chaldean, a chalk circle executed charmingly in reverse by Jean, and a modicum of hocus-pocus with a Knife, should dream up anything so impressively positive as Mr. Bolfrey, lead to a titanic struggle With a Calvinist minister for the souls of four people, and finally vaporise no small portion of the ocean off the Western Isles.

The point we should like to make is that the play has no connection with any reality, but nevertheless is not intended to be a fantasy in the strict sense. This is obvious from the device of Mr. Bolfrey's umbrella, which is discovered the following morning and inexplicably levitates itself out on a window, taking with it our last hope that the extraordinary events of the night were the figments of a dream. One realises, however, that this was necessary to point the moral, which is the triumph of Faith over the powers of evil within us and without, and the fact is, then, that the play cannot be judged on a basis of reason, and will already have been dismissed by the materialists as the phonus bolonus. For example, Mr. McCrimmon, in expounding his basis for religious faith, exhorts us to look around for evidence, and makes the statement that reason is a poor instrument for the apprehension of spiritual truths. We agree, and are reminded of how Heine said that Kant's Critique of Pure Reason is the sword with which he decapitated the Deity.

For a' that an a' that, it played remarkably well, and we congratulate Pix Hurrell and his charming cast for a production which, with a little more polish and publicity, could draw packed houses outside VUC. Bruce Mason as Bolfrey enjoys himself hugely in an outstanding interpretation of an exacting role, and we want to see a lot more of him. The Calvinist minister McCrimmon is portrayed with deep conviction by John McCreary, whose acting is better than ever, and we like Betty Arya as Mrs. McCrimmon. Geoff Datson's clowning is original and good, though we think his technique of osculation isn't up to much, and maybe Cath Crosse agrees with us. Diana Mason as the sophisticated Jean is altogether charming, and her poise adds a great deal to the success of the production. We present a bunch of forget-me-nots to Huddy Williamson for creating the Manse.

This collection of talented players is the best in a long time, and we think the Drama Club really has something. All the more reason then for selecting plays with rather more vital and forceful significance, which shine not only in production but in their content. And where are the crowded houses of our pre-war days, when first-night sessions were jammed to the doors? There may have been too little publicity, and some people are still preoccupied with settling down, but we recommend these Drama Club shows unreservedly, and predict a very successful year.