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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 9, No. 3. April 13, 1946


In They were Sisters there are some human beings who show how desirable life can be, and not how the film-makers think it should be. And there it a play on at the Opera House entitled Accent on Youth which is at least a respite from movies.

All that is likely or moving in They were Sisters I have summarised in the headline; but the sense of real life drama is not sustained, and very often the reality rests mainly on the dim and Inexpensive, though factual, settings which exist in most British films. All of the characters, save James Mason, the nasty husband, are taken from stock, and the juveniles give the impression of having rehearsed the life out of their lines, There is a general impression of woodenness about this vague plot; one never feels curious about the end, because there is a sense that no one has enough fire to bother much, anyway.

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In the build-up on the sixpenny programme, Accent on Youth is said to say something; but if this is not made clear in the build-up, it is even less clear in the Repertory Theatre's presentation. The theme is love, American love, couched in the customary phrases of physical praise in the second person but in this case there is a quadrilateral instead of the normal triangle. To use the words of the programme reviewer, Anderson, the play proves that "there is no fool like an old fool in love"; it also proves says he, "that youth as youth is no better than age as age," which are both parts of that stern doctrine "if it's not one thing, then It's another." Besides the first two quotations above it is also demonstrated that "youth can't have its cake and eat it." By this, Raphaelson, the author, means that if you want a young body you must put up with inexperience and crudity of mind; whereas you find the reverse in an old body. The young body representative in the play is created with sufficient lack of intelligence to force the conclusion in favour of the old body cum intelligence. The theme lacks conviction because the young body is altogether too young, I'd say about eleven; and because the æsthetic level never ascends past the physical. And you can't deceive the young that the experience of the old body will compensate for the power of youth, when the choice is made on such a level. The acting was not very polished, there being too much gesture and voice dropping for punctuation purposes. Another defect lay in the peculiar incongruity of racy American patois on the bloodless lips of semi-cultured New Zealand accents.

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