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Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Student's Newspaper. Volume 31, Number 6. April 9, 1968

Drama — Sex comedy


Sex comedy

Arianthe Garland as Cyrenne the prostitute and Waric Slyfield as Percy her customer bring an atmosphere of warmth and a touch of charm to Charles Dyer's The Rattle of a Simple man currently at Downstage.

Dick Johnstone, producing his first play for Downstage since 1966 and his first since his appointment earlier this year as resident producer, has used his stage fully giving his cast patterns of movement noticeably lacking in some recent productions there.

In a realistic and stylish production he has drawn out all the implicit naivety and loneliness found in both characters. Cyrenne is a most unusual prostitute; her naivety is hardly sexual but lies in the fantasy world of Oxford degrees, wealthy parents, precocious childhood and is revealed as she is enmeshed in a web of necessary untruths.

Percy, middle-aged scout master, football fan, prude, and virgin also spins his share of untruths but lacks Cyrenne's finesse.

The couple appear to have little in common but their deceptions and these draw them together.

By contrast the brief scene between Cyrenne and Ricky her brother (Ross Jolly) stands out. The real affection between the two comes through the bitchiness and violence as we learn the truth of Cyrenne's past. Mr. Jolly is to be commended on the impact he makes in such a brief space of time. He conveys all the intensity and half smothered violence of Ricky.

Mr. Johnstone uses a slight dimming of the lights to reinforce moments of intimacy and contrasts with the glare when their differing backgrounds are thrown into the open. Unfortunately this technique looses some of its effect in the realistic set.

Miss Garland's Cyrenne is a fascinating invention alternating with ease between the childish and the brassy. Waric Slyfield conveys successfully the prudishness and warmth of Percy.

The set (Cyrenne's basement flat) is essentially correct —the pin-ups, the toy dogs and the one modern painting reflect her conflicting worlds.

The Rattle of a Simple Man is a pleasant inoffensive comedy, well produced and deserves a good season.

An apology to Bruce Mason; his play Birds in the Wilderness reviewed in Salient (March 19) won the Auckland Arts Festival prize in 1958 not 1968 as printed.

Bob Lord.