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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 22, No. 7. June 20, 1959

The Long and the Short and the Tall

The Long and the Short and the Tall

A British patrol of seven men capture a Japanese soldier. They then discover the Japanese forces have broken through the front line; they are trapped behind the enemy lines.

What are they to do with their prisoner? Kill him? Or take him with them in their attempt to get back to the base?

This anti-war play revolves round the conflict between the poor soldier who sees his enemy as another human being and the good soldier who never hesitates to kill.

Like "Look Back In Anger" the construction of the play is faulty but it does have the one main virtue of Osborne's play, it is racy, vivid, and theatrical. It hits hard below the belt.

Typical Types

The seven men are all typical regional types—the Scot, the Welshman, the Yorkshireman. As characters they are all conventional.

But the barrack-room lawyer, Private Bamforth, is a full-blooded character. This cockney is larger than life. He is bawdy, tough, full of injustices of this world, and he has a strong element of the school bully in him.

He is in fact, Jimmy Porter set in a Malayan jungle. When the Jap is captured one would have thought that Bamforth would have given him a rough time. But Bamforth's natural sympathy is for the underdog and he defends the Jap. against the rest of the men.

At the climax of the play he screams at the others: "He's a human being." Bamforth was a poor soldier. He was acted to perfection by Thane Bettany.

The Best

This is by far the best production Stafford Byrnes has given us. The play was kept moving briskly to its climax.

In some of the scenes the shooting got so loud that every Jap. within a 10 mile radius must have heard; but not one bird or monkey seemed to be the least scared!

The setting was excellent and well-lit, though night must fall sometimes in Malaya.

Thane Bettany was ably supported by a team of actors not soloists.

More of this type of acting and production (though not necessarily this type of play) and the Players will recapture their audiences.