Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 22, No. 4. April 27, 1959

Theatre... — Pleased in "Anger" but Wild at "Importance" — Unity not Players Please

page 4


Pleased in "Anger" but Wild at "Importance"

Unity not Players Please

Unity's production of John Osborne's "Look Back in Anger" has had full houses and extended its season. The N.Z. Players' production of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest" had poor houses and a poor press all over the country.

I don't think that this proves anything, but it might suggest to the Players that their policy of putting on "safe" plays might not be so wise after all. Though I do not suggest that they do Beckett or Ionesco—heaven forbid!

Good Production

Apart from the appalling miscasting of the two women in "Look Back in Anger," the production was a good one. The whole play rises and falls with its Jimmy Porter. In what is surely the best written part since Shaw stopped writing his masterpieces in the twenties, Tim Elliot rose to the occasion with a bravura performance of this whining, egotistical, and unpleasant person.

When he was off-stage, the play dragged, but like Hamlet he is on-stage nearly all the time, and his verbal fireworks kept the audience either amused, disgusted (people did walk out) or just furious. But you couldn't possibly be apathetic to him.

Unfortunately Tim Elliot had an upper-class English voice, while Melwynne Smith as his wife Alison had a slight New Zealand accent, which tended to make Jimmy's tirades against the class barriers rather pointless. But ably supported by Michael Blake, as the easy-going and likeable Cliff, Tim Elliot gave a performance which will be hard to match in the coming season.

Why, oh Why?

Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest" has been done all over the country many many times. There has been an excellent film, and there is also a perfect L.P. version of this masterful comedy.

Why did the Players choose it?

The Players came a cropper with their version. The production and the acting were in all sorts of styles.

At one moment it was all farce (Stafford Byrne's forte, I suspect), the next it was modern drawing-room comedy.

Only three of the actors came close to the essence of Wilde comedy. Edward Petheredge, Louise Harris, and Anthony Groser (Algy, Gwendolen and Canon Chausible) were all light, charming and acting in the world created by Wilde; they took the comedy seriously.


But for most of the time the whole cast were just plainly inadequate, As for Barbara Leake's Lady Bracknell words fail me.

I hear that the Players' next production is Willis Hall's "The Long, the Short, and the Tall." Hurray! A modern play, but let us hope they have an audience and some money left.