Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 9, No. 2. March 20, 1946
Film and Stage
Film and Stage
For the person whose imagination and dramatic sensitivity is restricted by logic, the Gilbertian comedy is undoubtedly an acquired taste. A taste, moreover, which it is recommended to indulge at long intervals, lest one become somewhat dazed by the satirical mace which characterises such examples as the Mikado.
I use the term mace advisedly since the body blows of Gilbertian satire belong to an era when the subtler, more mature forms of social criticism were not in vogue in the theatre. While the wit of the Mikado may be naive in content it has, certainly, that succinct poetry which is the essence of all the operas. Gilbert and Sullivan seasons are so infrequent that in giving judgement there is a danger of setting up arbitrary standards of comparison. This danger is accentuated if it is not recognised that here is a unique type to which the traditional criteria of musical comedy are inapplicable. For safety then, the Mikado may be viewed entirety from the standpoint of the spectator, hoping for his four shillings worth. The two clearest characterizations were given by Koko. Pooh Bah and Yum Yum and the dimmest by Nanki Poo. The latter especially reminded me of a husky adolescent reciting The Boy Stood on the Burning Deck. Undoubtedly the pleasing performances of Koko, Pooh Bah, Katisha, and the Mikado were aided by the fact that they were the only ones who were consistently audible towards the back of the theatre. In spite of his awkward technique and lack of flexibility [unclear: Nagki] Poo, undoubtedly, possessed the finest singing voice in the cast. Yum Yum's also was a' voice of pleasing timbre though the effect was often marred by poor articulation and self-conscious posturing. Two very effective scenes were provided in their respective first entrances, by Katisha and Koko. who also enacted perhaps the wittiest and prettiest scene of all.
The costumes were vivid and colourful and the lighting was skilfully arranged in colour and brilliance to suit the occasion. Of all the players. Koko, in providing some touches of slapstick showed that spontaneous sense of timing which is the mark of the true artist. My excuse for writing this opinion in retrospect is that this final production of the Armed Services Operatic Society has been another milestone in the development of the theatre in New Zealand. Although it has the defects inevitable in an amateur company it is yet a symbol of the upward movement of individual and national culture.
The Great John L.
Hollywood has an idea that if a genial and democratic son of Sam meets a conservative Englishman and smashes him in the upper dorsals saying "Hiya bud." the Englishman's repressed face will relax into a coy smile, thus demonstrating that, behind it all he really wants to be cheery and pally to the world In general. This and other theories of similar value are used in the above movie to set off the lovable rascality of a genial American moron who batters [unclear: his] way to the forefront knucklemen in a panoramic story of maxillary hammering and blundering amours.
In the early stages the embryonic bruiser falls in love with the good girl of the story, and it is early-assured that her hallmarked fidelity Wi11 get him in the end: so there is no interest there. However, when it becomes evident that John L is cherishing the ambitions engendered by an over-active pituitary, she attempts to persuade him to lead a more respectable life and is thrown out in favour of the Bad Girl who is more amenable to boxing ideals. It seems that John L. felt an urge to stave in the prominent chin men of the day in order to re-establish his uneasy ego. And so there follows a sequence of fights in which the hero batters down a row of incompetent British and Continental pugilists thus illustrating the plucky dauntlessness of American manhood. Gregory McClure as John L was appropriately inane, and Linda Darnell added no colour to a platitudinous role, but Barbara Britton might have been better in a reasonably intelligent story.