Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 17, No. 7. April 29, 1953
Sir,—Is this a college newspaper or is it not? You tolerate Mr. Rich's film reviews, but as yet there has been no mention of one of the college's major activities—the Drama Club's production of "Cockpit."
"Cockpit" was a fine piece of production and well worth reviewing. Now that there in a change of editor. I hope more notice will be taken of this club's valuable work.
(We hope so too.—Ed.)
Sir, Peter Dronke's on the whole efficient appreciation of the Stratford Company presentations has prompted me to raise one or two points. Firstly. Leo McKern's Iago. I felt Mr. Dronke's praise was perhaps a little lavish, this Iago was. I think, a little too much of a comic character, he could have given the appearance of being a bluff and genial soldier without entering into the affection of the audience The audience on the night I attended roared with laughter when Iago, after cutting down Cassio from behind, runs in and murders Roderigo and hearing the crowd approaching decides not to murder Cassio but to help him. This scene, the first in Act V. immediately precedes the death of Desdemona and the audience, if understanding the tragedy, should by now have a fear and dread of Iago, it should not. I think, be getting a laugh at him.
"As You Like It" appeared to my unpractised eye to be flawless and I would thoroughly endorse Mr. Dronke's appreciation. Speaking of "Henry IV" I am in untrodden ground but a point which came out in the acting seemed to me to be that the impersonation of the king scene with Hal and Falstaff is not up to the standard of the others. On the opening night there was hardly a laugh raised in this scene and the raucous mirth of Peto, Bardolph and Co. onlookers clashed nastily with the silence in the audience. I have not yet decided whether this was through a lack of subtlety in the presentation or whether through the fault of the text.
And a Reply
Mr. Bloomfield seems to be confusing two issues about Iago's character. First, whether he should enter into the sympathy of the audience or not I think he is entitled to for would one not be more affected by the villany of someone whom one had trusted, than by someone obviously to be suspected? The contrast here makes Iago not less, convincingly villainous. I think, but more so. The other question is the laughter which Roderigo's death scene provoked. This laughter seemed not to show amusement but rather a relief of tension, and I think a deliberate contrast is provided by this scene and the "Willow" scene and Desdemona's death, which strain the nerves of the audience to the utmost.
It is a debatable point whether Prince Hal's mimicry of his father in the tavern scene in "Henry IV" should be meant seriously or not or whether it permits a change in tone, but it seems to me that Terence Longdon's acting was at fault in making no attempt at mimicry and making his lines coldly serious rather than mocking and ironical.