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SMAD. An Organ of Student Opinion. 1934. Volume 5. Number 3.

Prof. Von Zedlitz Reviews Cappicade — A Letter to Smad

page 8

Prof. Von Zedlitz Reviews Cappicade

A Letter to Smad

I hope you can make space for an appreciation of Cappicade; I should be glad of the opportunity of telling your readers what an excellent impression the show created in one who is a confirmed laudator temporis acti, and who remembers the first-rate extravaganzas of a generation ago. Even now I am not prepared to say that the versification was as sparkingly Gilbertian, or the dialogue as witty as those of say, the Munchums. Also the choreography of Cappicade, with the exception of the old men's dance, was decidedly banal. It opens up the question of whether it would not pay to have our burlesque entirely for men performers—an artistic success it would be, but not without its own dangers for students anxious to conciliate a public whose mind has been prejudiced by mud-slinging. However that may be, I don't see how Medea's part could have been acted with greater brilliance; the general average of the other parts was admirable throughout; in fact the evenness of so numerous a cast in three plays, and the excellence of the casting, were outstanding features. Then the political hits were so shrewdly given and showed so much inner knowledge that I rather wondered how much of it, some obvious strokes apart, could be within range of that crowded audience. Finally I come to what delighted me most of all; the tone of "Murder in the Common Room." Like every loyal Salamancan. I have felt indignant at the meanly mischievous attacks recently made on the College, and rather sore that the authorities failed to squash the aggressors heavily. But I also know that the College authorities can act like men on occasion. As an eye-witness I have seen two crises in which the ardor civium prava iubentium had no terrors for the Council, nor the vultus instantis tyranni for the professorial staff. This time, too, Professor Kirk and Professor Gould came into the open and hit back; and the Wellington graduates—blessings on them—men with positions to guard and reputations to lose—took an honourable stand. And how about the maligned and badgered students? They steered between Scylla and Charybdis, avoiding both the danger of Juvenalian indignation, and the boredom of a vermine-dissecting objectivity; light allusions at most to show that the author knew his Genealogy of Morals. It has been observed truly that if the jobs of professors depended on an annual plebiscite of their classes, no professor would ever get the sack; students are so fundamentally good-natured. Never did that good nature come out more happily than in Cappicade. Self-restraint, dignity, good Armoured hits. Castigation, of course—was it not asked for?—but neither jeers nor condescension. Judging by newspaper correspondence, the Wellington public is already coming round. It reminds me of a remark I overheard from one of the leaders of our social world, who had stayed in the same hotel with Bernard Shaw, and was defending his reputation here. "My dear, he's not as awful as people say. I saw him open a door for a lady once." So with the students; a few more Cappicades, and the stigma of political and moral hooliganism will have disappeared. Good-humoured ridicule and ready wit are still the best of weapons against obscurantism and canting malevolence.

A last word of praise for the programme. Your advertising agent ought to have an easy proposition seeking space next year. I shall not try to write my own advertisement if T can get the same writer to do it for me.

Very Sincerely Yours,

G. W. Von Zedlitz