SMAD. An Organ of Student Opinion. 1935. Volume 6. Number 11.
New Dramatic Talent Makes Good. — "Laburnum Grove" Successful
New Dramatic Talent Makes Good.
"Laburnum Grove" Successful.
The Dramatic Club's production of J. B. Priestley's new play. "Laburnum Grove," played before large audiences on Friday and Saturday nights, was a creditable success. The play, very worthy and suitable, deals with the life of a respectable suburban family with the usual parasites, an uncle and aunt, and a designing prospective son-in-law. The bombshell which the father drops, very casually at supper, changes the whole tone of the play and gives rise to most amusing situations. He solemnly declares that his business is a blind and that he is in reality a counterfeiter on a large scale. The reaction of the self-righteous "hangers-on" and their contending hopes and fears, reveal characterisation of a very subtle order. The arrival of an Inspector from Scotland Yard gives a most impressive climax, to be followed by an anticlimax in the arrival of the village constable asking for a subscription to the local Football Club, which is handed over in notes, in a rather too casual manner.
Versatile New Cast.
The production was in all respects capable and workmanlike. The cast, which was of entirely new material, displayed unusual versatility and was, without exception, well cast. The heaviest part—that of George Radfern, the father—was played with confidence and evenness by E. S. Harrowell. The heavy part at no time lagged and was most convincingly portrayed. The easy-going mother was played by Molly Best, who gave one of the most sympathetic and clear characterisations in the play. Uncle Bernard, the bombastic man from "out East," was played by Ashley-Jones. This fresher proved himself to be a most promising actor in his first appearance. His deep voice helped to emphasise the shallow character and was very pleasant to listen to.
Youth and Comedy.
The two young people Elsie and Harold (Joan Powell and Tom Bush), were good counterparts and added good looks and brightness, especially to the supper scene. The break in Harold's character and the naive reactions of Elsie were particularly well done. Mr. Joe Fletton, the comic relief, was played with a strong sense of humour by I. Gow. Inspector Stack (N. A. Morrison) was restrained and firm—an excellent piece of under-acting. The scene between the father and the Inspector was the most gripping in the play. The constable was played with suitable stolidity by A. Armour.
The production by Dorothea Tossman was most impressive. Carefully-balanced groups, smooth action, even tempo, and an eye for a dramatic situation, showed a good grasp of the stage and proved that young producers from our own club are entirely satisfactory. Added to a difficult production, Miss Tossman took the part of the unpleasant Aunt at a few days' notice, and gave a most convincing performance. The responsibility of production and acting was not too much for her, and in both spheres she showed real ability.
The Stage was a Picture.
Even at the risk of over-complimenting the Dramatic Club, we feel that the work which makes a smooth-running play possible deserves the hightest commendation. The stage was a picture. The difficulties overcome by stage-managers on the miserable box of a stage are tremendous. The size and shape are all wrong, the lighting is hopeless, yet somehow a shadowless, neat picture is achieved, and on this occasion the illusion of a sitting-room in a garden villa was quite realistic. The colour scheme and props were all carefully thought out and arranged. The stage-manager, Jack Aimers, is' to be congratulated. The business manageress, Geraldine Gallagher, also did efficient work. The management of the house is dirty, dull and disappointing work, and when it is done properly, adds to the effectiveness of a show. When a play is followed by supper and a dance, it becomes doubly difficult. It is to be hoped that people who accept these positions are rewarded in Heaven, for they seldom are at V.U.C. Pat Macaskill did his work efficiently and well, and the work of the Supper committee was also satisfactory. The Club could never have been expected to cater for over 200 people.
This Paeon of Praise.
For "Smad" to enter on such a paeon of praise is unquestionably a new departure, but the Dram. Club appears to be doing good work and is giving the students and the public excellent money for their "bobs." For this reason we feel that encouragement is deserved particularly in a show in which there were no outstanding shortcomings and many virtues.
The idea of clubs raising money for the Building Fund is well worth supporting, and there should be quite a substantial profit from "Laburnum Grove."
The Dramatic Club's next entertainment is a Vaudeville Evening in September, which will augment the Building Fund still further, and if the standard is as high as in "Laburnum Grove," the students should flock to see it.