Last term we held our own Drama Festival. Six plays were presented, and Mr. Brobyn, Mr. Hyde, and Mr. T.M. Morgan consented to select the group which in their opinion gave the most meritorious performance.
The competitive element resulted in a greater keenness on the part of the actors themselves, and a more critical attention on the part of the audience.
K. Paton's group gave a performance of Anthony's Gale's Execution. It should have been possible for the players to construct a setting which indicated that the action took place in the bar of an inn. It would have helped to make the play more convincing.
The female characters lacked conviction and elegance, and were often inaudible. The chief male parts, however, were exceedingly well played, Sorensen being outstanding. Execution is a difficult play to put over, and great credit must be given to the cast for their attempt.
R. Davis produced Banquo's Chair, a popular thriller by R. Croft-Cooke. Inaudibility robbed the production of any entertainment value it may have possessed, and a high percentage of marks was lost on this account. It is quite useless for a group to spend a great deal of time on movement, grouping, make-up and scenery, and to neglect this first essential of clear and audible speaking.
The play improved considerably towards the end when Young gave us some quite good stage hysterics.
Mr. Starbuck's group played The Golden Doom by Lord Dunsany. Here we had a large cast, and the play, thoughtfully produced, held the audience. The costumes, brightly coloured material decorated with sections of gilt doyleys, were a brilliant effort.
The play was marred by the soldiers who, on more than one occasion, surrendered their statuesque pose in order to indulge in some private joke. D. Pettegree and Hull gave excellent performances.
Scuttleboom's Treasure, by Ronald Gow, was produced by Mr. Hammer, Chairman of the Dramatic Society. Mr. Hammer's difficulty was to include all the boys who had not obtained parts in the other plays. .Scuttleboom's Treasure, with its innumerable pirates and schoolboys, enabled him to do this, but the very large cast must have presented many difficulties of production.
Apart from an uncomfortable pirate chief and a slightly overdrawn schoolmaster, the group gave some first-class acting. The tempo was fast and the speech clear. Stringer was considered to have given the best individual performance of the morning. Lugsden, too, was very good indeed.
Chittenden produced The Dear Departed by Stanley Houghton. This play has three important female roles, and is not, therefore, the easiest of plays for a group of boys to choose. The difficulties of production were increased by the fact that the producer himself played one of the chief parts, and he was not able to study the action from the position of the audience. This was the direct cause of the occasional bad positioning of a player. The acting was, however, excellent, and there was a fine sense of point and climax. The whole play moved swiftly and smoothly.
The Dear Departed was placed first by the judges. The producer and his cast, "team" is probably a better word, are to be warmly congratulated.
The Rehearsal, by Maurice Baring, was produced by Mr. Campbell. Like The Golden Doom, this play was beautifully dressed: the costumes were rich and colourful; the make-up, too, was excellent. Curtains provided all the setting that was necessary.
Yet the play failed badly. Inaudibility-this word cannot be repeated too often in dealing with stage matters-was the first reason for the failure. Even in the centre of the Hall very little could be heard. The second reason was the slowness of the action. The players would pause between speeches. Spragg and Thompson deserve special mention because they could he heard.