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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 20, No. 12. August 15, 1957

Shaw Comedy for Tournament

Shaw Comedy for Tournament

In selecting a play for Tournament this year consideration was given to the apparent desire of judges to sec one act plays rather than shortened versions of three-act dramas. There is, of course, merit in this, tor one-act plays, when one finds a good one, are at least complete in themselves. After much scouting around "Man of Destiny/" by G. B. Shaw, was decided on. It had the virtue of being a one-act play requiring a small cast, little elaboration in stage setting and, moreover, from a dramatic point of view, had much of value.

It is essentially a comedy; Shaw called it "a piece of historical fiction", and has plenty of scope for the four actors to display their ability. Set in Italy after Napoleon's first major victory, it is an attempt to guy the myth of Napoleon by placing him in a situation in which he is most uncomfortable. The prime cause of his unease is a young lady (played by Elisabeth Kersley) who, by disguising herself as an Austrian lieutenant, dupes one of Napoleon's officers into handing over his dispatches. The lady then arrives at the same inn that Napoleon (David Verc-Jones) has chosen as his headquarters and is recognised by the officer (John Gamby). The situation develops with further duping of the officer but not .Napoleon, who finds, however, that he has more to gain by not admitting knowledge of the lady's identity. The comedy, one might say the farce, centres around their attempt to resolve the situation. The innkeeper (Trevor Hill) has his part to play as a foil to Napoleon and adds to the comedy.

The cast has come on well in production, have the advantage of being experienced, and should show up most favourably in the competition. It seems a pity though, that plays, actors and producers should be pitted against each other, for surely drama docs not stand in the same place as competitive sports. The ideas which are now being mooted for a comprehensive festival to be held at the various universities seem infinitely better if it can be arranged. The possibility of seeing the major works of the different colleges is sure to be more inspirational.

Mention should be made of the backstage crew who are all-important and too often forgotten. This year Mike Bright is carrying the worries of the set and the lighting. Winnie Doug is arranging costumes and Irene Demchenko is handling props. The play is produced by Colin Bickler.