Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 7, No. 7 July 26, 1944
In spite of the fact that I saw the play under the worst possible conditions, and in spite of the fact that I have rightly been taken to task by some members of the cast for earlier reviews, I still think that The Man Who Come To Dinner was a bad production and a bad performance. The company must be thankful that the film hasn't yet screened here.
A wet Saturday matinee with a tired cast is no excuse for a sloppy show, and the playing about which went on was no credit to a professional company. It seems a pity, too, that we are given such an ill-assorted company when New Zealand is so starved for theatre. Granted that there are some competent and experienced straight players, I see no reason why the bulk of the company should still be playing pantomime and musical comedy and vaudeville in straight—and rather good—plays. And that is what happened in The man Who Came To Dinner. This is a clever play, although. I think, too American for New Zealand audiences, and requires legitimate acting of some calibre. It doesn't get it.
The prop of the play, of course, is Sheridan Whiteside, who is on the stage almost the whole time. Lloyd Lamble was. I think, capable in an exacting role, but he was not my idea of Whiteside. He didn't get it over. He made the character a mean, nasty old man, whereas I consider Whiteside to be just a rude, selfish, amusing person, not wholly aware of the devastating effect of his autocratic rule. Also. Mr. Lamble bulged in the wrong places —his padding looked as though it had been done in a hurry.
Neva Carr-Glyn was again good, though better in "Susan and God." But why will she jerk up her skirts like that whenever she sits? Ethel Gabriel, the better aunt in "Arsenic and Old Lace," was excellent in a similar part here. Sam Stern, back in panto., was raucous and annoying. The first time he did that leg business was very funny, the second time quite amusing, the third, fourth and fifth times . . .!
The whole company was inclined to point the dirty lines (the show is "unexpurgated"). I particularly disliked a nasty little lyric (not in the original script) entitled "Don't let's be Beastly to the Huns." And I didn't think it necessary to introduce the name of Paddy Webb.
The set was rather tasteless, and this company seems to make a specialty of banging doors, so that the flats quiver like aspen.
I'm sorry that this is another bad review, and admittedly I saw the show at its worst, but I must be truthful. I think, and one of the leading members of the company agrees with me. that the Repertory production of "Heartbreak House" was streets ahead of this show.