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The Spike or Victoria College Review 1938

Ungodly Capers

page 18

Ungodly Capers

I was not surprised to see that the man sitting next to me on the first night of the Extravaganza was clad in Grecian draperies (one expects unusual sights on such occasions), but I was very surprised when he told me, a little bombastically, that he was a messenger from Olympus, come to see how a mere mortal interpreted the wisdom of the Gods.

Throughout the entire programme he seemed to have no compunction about passing audible and candid comments. He enjoyed the "Banned Item," especially the Professors' song, and the natty little costumes worn by the girls. "But why," he asked, "can't they dance in time to the music? And why don't the Professors perform their antics in some sort of unison? Or don't they?"

"Adam Baba and the Forty Leagues" almost defied his critical powers. It was a witty piece, a pretty piece, and although he winced visibly at the puns in the last scene, he was in a rare good humour when it ended. He liked the Leagues (especially Half-a-League), and the sinuous Eastern ballet. He liked the 2ZB signal and the slow-witted citizens. As for the three Passionalists—so great was his enthusiasm, that it was only by reminding him that it was exclusively for ladies and young people that I managed to restrain him from rushing out to join the Passionalist Party.

He was glad I made him stay because he would otherwise have missed the men's ballet in "Port Nick Iniquity." This "musical mellow-drammer" by John Carrad was apparently musical enough and mellow enough even for one accustomed to the generous entertainments of Olympus. "I don't quite get the meaning," he said uneasily at one stage, but when I assured him that there was none he enjoyed it immensely, and during the interval he hummed the tune of "Treasure Trove" as he appreciatively read his Cappicade.

I believe he was prejudiced against "Olympian Nights," feeling that the Gods are wiser than we know, and that even the mortal Gods of Mr. Meek's depicting were wiser than he could make them.

He was very impressed by the stage. "What yards and yards of drapery!" he murmured when the curtain rose on Paroxysm II and the court of the Emperor Asparagus was revealed in all its glory. He was amazed, too, at the number of students incorporated into the scenery, until I explained to him that this was one way of seeing the show for nothing, which is of course the aim of everyone who likes to take an active part in College life.

"Was the late Sir Arthur Sullivan a student at the College?" he asked in some surprise, "or have you no musicians?" I explained that Sir Arthur's contribution to the piece was due less to a dearth of musicians than to a whim of the author's. We agreed that this was regrettable.

He seemed to have heard some of the jokes before, and when Citronella and Ariel had finished singing "The Rule of Three," he whispered to me a verse from a very similar song about "two and one to carry," which, he said, was as old as mathematics themselves.

But he was not wholly critical, for he enjoyed Ariel's descent from the roof each time it happened; he laughed at the "Veritas" reporters, admired the ballets, thought the plot was ingenious, and admitted that the words of "Rollo the Ravaging Roman" appealed to a full-blooded taste he had developed from long association with the Gods.

"It would be rather interesting," he said, "to see how far the author could go without the inspiration of W. S. Gilbert, Aldous Huxley, Thorne Smith or any other writer of the past or present." He observed as his final judgment that "Olympian Nights" had been a splendid spectacle and very good in parts.

This condescension from one not connected with the University nettled me a little, and rather testily I asked him whether he thought that he could have done any better. There was no reply. He had vanished, and I was talking to myself.

— M.J.