Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 11., No. 9. 28th July 1948
Once more the Drama Club has ventured into the one-act play world, but with much more success than last month's effort. On Friday, 16th, we saw presented readings of three one-act plays written by students of the college: John Little, Harry Evison, and Lindsay MacDonald.
John Little's hors d'oeuvre was a strange mixture of Oedipus, a taste of Ibsen, a dash of T. S. Eliot and a faint aroma of Edgar Allen Poe. The plot, as far as I could gather, concerned Joe whose father had married, for the second time, a particularly nasty piece of work, who spent her time driving her step-daughter crazy. While she is about her sadistic practices one day Joe enters and (in righteous wrath) kills his stepmother, who in her dying breath, vents a terrible curse that all the first-born of Joe's loins and thence forward, will be mad. All this conveniently happens in the past and when the play opens we find Joe married, with a partly mad daughter and an even madder grand-daughter. To eradicate the evil the doctor decides to reconstruct the scene of the curse. In the ensuing melee Joe's wife kills her (and Joe's) granddaughter then Joe kills his wife before she manages to kill his daughter. When the bodies had been swept up it turns out that Joe's homocidal wife was none other than his stepmother's daughter by her first marriage, hence we may draw the moral "Don't meddle with Fate." Paul Treadwell as the mad grand-daughter was the crowning triumph of the play.
The piece de resistance was Harry Evison's short play which dealt with the intellectual Red student, who although he supported revolution when it came to a show-down was not prepared to fight for his ideals. It is a play that may well apply to many of the communistically inclined students to be found around the universities today: those who cannot face the true meaning of their beliefs." Mr. Evison's is a worthy attempt to show up this type, and in Hank, the main character, he succeeds. We see Hank, the man who would rather play Beethoven (which in his opinion was the solution of all problems) than fight, faced by the spectacle of two rebels righting for their lives. The rebels, too, give a real impression. But perhaps the best character is Sue, who has the courage to stick and fight for her beliefs, despite her fondness for Hank. The point of view set forward by the play is a new one and a realistic one, yet Mr. Evison ignores the old advice that is still true: "Whatsoever things are just, pure and of good report, think on these things."
I applaud the decision of the Drama Club to present this play at Tournament. It has advantages, in that it was written in the college, has real dramatic value, and plenty of scope for real acting. For Tournament it will be produced by Gilbert Johnstone, but the cast has not yet been decided on.
Lindsay MacDonald's play was also good. It dealt with the situation under the iron heel of occupation. The plot concerns the position of a pseudo patriot who turns informer for the Gestapo, around this the whole story revolves. For a play written in this sheltered little corner of New Zealand this shows considerable dramatic knowledge and Mr. MacDonald is to be congratulated on his effort which, although it has its faults, is really an excellent play.