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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 30, No. 7. 1967.

Extravaganza tried hard but failed rather sadly

Extravaganza tried hard but failed rather sadly

Op? Pop? Kinky?—whatever Extrav 67 tried to be it failed rather sadly.

Of the skits only a few achieved the standard of last year's Extrav and of recent Drama Club revues—and those were the ones where writer Roger Hall was left to handle his own material; notably the "chat" from the police official and the perennial send-up of James Stirling.

In the hands of others Mr. Hall's scripts revealed themselves as trite or failed, through overacting, to realise their potential. The cafeteria skit with traditional attacks on camel-hair coats, the law faculty, and Wanganui Collegiate (however valid they may be) falls into the former category and the interview with the ambivalent pop singer into the latter—this skit itself seemed pointless, but it may have been redeemed by some attempt at subtlety on behalf of the actors.

The tv satire on Danger Man plodded its weary way for far longer than the material warranted. The supposedly comic attack on the New Zealand man and the kinky aspects of rugby was only relieved by John Croucher's recounting of incidents with tigers. The tv commercials were amusing, but again such skits are becoming hackneyed.

Of the group sketches, the highlights were the Holyoake interview—handled brilliantly by Roger Hall, who found adequate support only in Caroline Harding and the Carnaby Street number, where again Miss Harding showed her ability as an actress as opposed to an Extrav-regular.

The choreography was a further triumph for Deidre Tarrant's work with untrained dancers at the university over the past few years. The incorporation of male dancers and the connection between some of the dances and the skits were advances on previous usage of Miss Tarrant's work.

The unconnected dances—Green Onions, Railway Train—attributed a buoyancy to the programme (supplemented by the sing-along item) that the skits alone could never have provided.

The music provided under the direction of Gilbert Haisman did much to give Extrav an appearance of slickness and vitality, but it was not matched by the quality of the rest of the show.

But what of Allbody? Steve Whitehouse's production Extrav '66 channelled capping concert into new fields and future concerts will likely continue this style of production. The concept of Allbody, although it offers greater opportunity for serious satire than revue skits, is hardly likely to be retained in future Extravs.

This is neither a criticism of Allbody nor of Extrav, simply the two are like oil and water, and as a serious play as opposed to a lighthearted revue Allbody seemed to suffer through its inclusion.

One hopes that an opportunity will arise to see Allbody presented again in Wellington with a more competent cast.

The tone set by the pseudo-psychedelic opening dance was not maintained through-out. The script offered tremendous opportunities for the cast, which were only realised in Roger Hall's characterisation of the money-minded Jew, Luka; by Caroline Harding's presentation of the enigmatic woman who had found another happiness; and by the sustained acting of John Croucher as Allbody. Other parts which could have been well developed, for example Mussy, remained flat. Bruce Holt was more than competent as the swinging angel Gabriel.

The "Cat Ballou" device of the linking balladeers worked well and tended to connect the play with the atmosphere of the first half of Extrav.

It is, I think, the strength of the play that it offers no conclusion and no definitions—particularly of the "Other happiness," but this is also one of the reasons why the play did not thoroughly blend in with the rest of the programme.

Allbody, as a play, deserves far greater discussion than afforded it here. I hope it is performed again, without the topical jokes that tended to detract rather than add to its impact, and perhaps with a greater emphasis on the "other happiness" but not definition.

It is a compliment both to the writer and to the cast that the play was taken seriously by the audience.

Looking at the whole of Extrav 67 it seems that when it was good it was quite good and when it was bad it was lousy. The experiment in the second half did not pay off, but it was worth doing.

Mention should be made of the Director. What he did I do not know, but it was a lovely photo of him in the programme. The production by Bill Sheat was uneven and the same comment may be applied to it as I have applied above to the show.

Bob Lord