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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 29, No. 12. 1966.

Downstage choice was somewhat baffling

Downstage choice was somewhat baffling

The Mechanical triumphs of the modern theatre were the most impressive aspect of Downstage's recent production, The Pit. Opening with a 15-minute interval which gave the two "technicians" maximum opportunity to demonstrate virtuoso slides-man-ship, the play itself soon demonstrated the transparency of its substance and the conventionality of its treatment.

An every-American, Anselm Froth, demonstrates his every-American qualities by telling the audience about his successful marriage (he is caponised) during a quarrel with a loudspeaker which represents his wife. His "tragic flaw" is discovered when he attempts to perform a selfless action, the rescue of a little girl, Mary Alice Vegetable, from a pit into which she has fallen. Caught up in this singularly un-American activity are more ordinary Americans, Jason Polk (he doesn't want to act), the Police, the Press and a Congressional sub-committee, all of whom accuse Froth of atheist and Communist sympathies. The play concludes with Froth frustrated and Mary Alice Vegetable still in the pit likely to become the 89-year-old Virgin of Guadeloupe that she earlier, then sarcastically, claimed to be.

Advertised as a "satiric cartoon," this play has about it a distressing obviousness which the word "cartoon" cannot justify. As a play with significance, it was uncertain what it exactly signified, seeming to assert that the present state of society is to be condemned and or accepted. Certainly it said nothing about the relationship of the individual to society which Peanuts has not said more perceptively and subtly; as entertainment (if entertainment can be divorced from significance) its humour was low-grade and depended more upon gimmick than upon situation.

Grant Tilly, playing Froth, had the only substantial role and filled it admirably. Most striking, however, was the almost complete limitation of the other roles to broad caricature, a further aspect of The Pit which made its choice somewhat baffling — B.J.O.