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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 11. 1965.

The Death of Bessie Smith

The Death of Bessie Smith

The cats in Albee's The Death of Bessie Smith did not have to overcome an awkward translation, but theirs was a vastly more workmanlike production. Actors were experienced, dramatic clashes were dramatic and, of a consequence, the audience was caught up in sympathy with the playwright, rather than for the players.

Judy Cleine, as the first nurse, sharing prejudices she denounced, gave an excellent performance. Her accent (the American South) was as good as any and better than not a few; voice, posture and gesture all transmitted bitterness, even if, in the case of voice, sometimes not far beyond the first row.

Rhys Jones, the intern, with whom she had the most vicious exchanges in the play, had a louder voice, not as good an accent, and a cynicism that was a model for the world-weary.

On Baile Strand

Auckland University did On Baile Strand. The heady Yeatsian vision of fools, blind beggars and kings was superbly produced. Costumes were appropriate and frequently magnificent. Movement combined the patterned formality of epic with the natural. The set was plain—just a room in a dwelling—but, with the sensitive control of gloom and stronger light could become a stage for legend, fusing past with present before the Fool's eyes.

Voices were resonant and powerful, particularly Chuchulain's (Michael Noonan) who provided an example of intelligent declamation that Waikato University might well have noted. The epic tone was sustained without loss of dignity, vigour or sense.