The Spike: or, Victoria University College Review, October 1918
The Concert—Thursday, June 20th, 1918
The Concert—Thursday, June 20th, 1918.
"I've a mystery I'm going to reveal!"—Bad Ballads.
The Capping Concert is always of the nature of a variety entertainment, and those who take ticket for it may be sure that they will have ample opportunity to laugh "dull care away."
On June 20th the programme included various musical items, a short duologue and, as most important item, "A Grand Opera in One Act"— "The Prof's Progress"—the creation of the combined talent of the students of to-day.
The clever little sketch "Collaborators" was presented by Miss Alba Greening and MR.V. Evans, both of whom possess decided histrionic talent. Still it is the duty of a critic to point out that collaboration is required f those who collaborate! Mr. Evans's conception of his part was on the whole correct, but as he appeared to have worked it out quite independently of his partner, the duologue resolved itself into two monologues, both interesting in their way but hardly fulfilling the author's intention. Much of Miss Greening's "business" was effective, and her interpretation generally, gave evidence of careful study. With so much talent at command, she would be well advised to take lessons in voice production, and also to make a study of the methods of the best modern actors. That artificial and melodramatic style of elocution has long been discarded by the modern stage as inartistic.
The criticism of "A Grand Opera" even in "one act" presents difficulties to the amateur critic, which at first sight appear insurmountable. Fortunately, a second reading of the programme reveals the much less alarming sub-title— "A Piffling Playlet"—with which it is easier to cope. Even if one has too lively a memory of the extravaganzas of "Capping Carnivals" of the past, to consider this last quite worthy to take a front place in their ranks, one must still offer most sincere congratulation to the students of to-day whose determination to present an entertainment worthy of the occasion, neither the shrinking of the sovereign, nor the latest additions to the War Regulations has proved sufficient to overcome.
V.U.C. is ever modern and up-to-date. The playwriter of to-day displays his wit not only in the text but in the "stage directions." V.U.C. playwrights have gone a step further and produced a programme, which one can commend heartily for its pleasant wit and quaint fancies. It was certainly a happy notion—that of "capping" Professor, those "deep-thinking, learned and kind-hearted men." "With wondrous lore and marvellous minds." And the friendly page 46 relations existing in the home of learning on Salamanca's windy slopes must have been patent to the veriest stranger present.
A cast including such world-famous stars as Gaby Deslys, Charlie Chaplin, Harry Lauder and Diogenes, is and must remain, above criticism; but one feels that "Juanitor Brooke" (a bygone babbler) played by Alfred Lord Tennyson will long remember with pleasure his "1st Class Honours in mustering and draughting, with special mention for sentimental references to old students," and that "Jentle Jamey Thompson" (the three-star artist feared by Hindenburg) and "S. Hiram Klark" (a Komic Kewpie Kid) will have no doubts as to the friendly feelings entertained towards them—short as is the time during which they have been amongst us. For it is indeed a proof of friendship to receive a cordial invitation to look no, while all one's particular and pet weaknesses are paraded to amuse a critical audience!
In conclusion a word of criticism may be permitted. "The Profs.' Progress" proclaims itself a parody. Now, in order to produce true parody one must have a clear idea of what one is going to parody and must at all costs carry out that idea from start to finish. Cleaver and witty as is the idea of not only burlesquing the names of the Dramatis Personae but providing a cast who should be the most capable of playing the character, it would have been still cleverer if it had been quite clear whether the authors intended each character to be represented as seen by friend or foe, compliment or opposite. One asks, for instance, why Horsay Watson is played by M. Myers when Simple Simon in cast for Joe Up Ah Sheet? Both are amusing, but they should not exist side by side.
Again, the very essence of parody is the exaggeration of peculiarities possessed by the original. When Maurice Baring wrote the "Blue Harlequin,' one could almost believe Maurice had collaborated, so perfect is the reproduction of the latter's style. The writers of the "Profs.' Progress" did not remember this rule throughout their play and its symmetry suffered severely as a result.
The acting itself would have been more effective if there had been more light and shade. An extravaganza is necessarily boisterous and should be full of life and merriment, but contrast is always valuable and the wittiest speech is the better for being brief.
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