Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 1. 28 February 1972
Dont Let Summer Come by Terence Feely.
Presented by Downstage. Reviewed by John Hales.
Margot: Our man won't be a porpoise, mind you — not the man we're waiting for.
Sadie: No, hell be more of a rabbit.
Margot: A frightened rabbit, with furry thoughts and a twitching psyche.
Sadie (confidentially): Hell be a man who's terrified of just being alive...
Margot: Have we reached you yet? Do you know who you are?
Sadie: Does the man we are waiting for know he's the man we are waiting for?
George knows alright. He has been planted there, after all. He dismays the girls when they find he is a professional actor. But they know their work. They make him comfortable, fit him into his unusual situation, flatter him. Then while he is congratulating himself on his good luck, Margot and Sadie have slipped behind a screen and emerge as shop girls. George, again disorientated, tries to rebel is soothed, made at ease. Once again the girls change costume and role, emerging as sophisticated actresses. George subsides, and wavers throughput the further pageant of roles between bewilderment, and nostalgic imbecility. His search for security leads him to accept the protection the two girls offer when they coddle and mother him. At the same time he cannot understand their role playing or their connection with the menacing being in the basement. The stage is full of mystery, uncertainty, Who is the person who rings cryptically at key points in the play? What causes the wardrobe in the corner to roar like a lion (the script calls it a rumble but in the production it was positively a roar)? The basement fills him even more with ambivalence. It is a place of security?
George:... And you never see the daylight. Ho, it's what I've been looking for all my life.
and at the same time a place of fear.
Margot: We crept into his sort of studio down there one day when he was out... And he's got these big blown-up pictures of girl's souls all around the walls.
It is his womb and his grave. George would fit in nicely there, like being back in his pram. But it is also where the crushing yard is;-the place where the surgeon comes from to take his temperature. Worst of all it is the place where plastic actors, Plastacts, are made. And George is wanted as a model for these ghastly creations.
George: No, no, no, no, — I don't want to go down there. I want to stay here. I don't want to have a Plastact looking just like me, with no bones in it.
Margot: Perhaps you're wise darling.
Sadie: Yes, he's not perfected it yet ... Funny things happen.
George: (fearful): What sort of funny things.
Sadie: Well, some of the Plastacts have ... bones ... in them They tome out with bones in them. Then it's not nice.
Margot: And bits of... sort of ... hair, as well.
It is fortunate that Downstage makes little play of the mystery and menace that the plot contains. These aspects of the play make it a hamhanded imitation of Pinter's 'Dumb Waiter'.. How much better to change it to a rollicking farce, with the clumsy stage-effects of foreboding as an ill fitting but unfortunately necessary overcoat. For what is here represented by a wardrobe that growls and changes into a lift, a telephone, and a loudspeaker, was so much more subtly concisely, symbolised by the dumb waiter in Pinter's play. This production utilised even the confused and exaggerated menace to comic effect.
The two female roles are exceedingly difficult to play. Not only is there need to be consistent to each of the various guises used, but each has, even while carrying the greatest part of the movement and dialogue of the play, to keep the focus of the audience firmly fixed on George, the nobody. The only humour about George is his pathos. His speeches are platitudinous and boring, and so he plays no part in the comedy of which his is the leading part. Janice Finn and Donna Akersten put on an incredible performance. They moved fluently through each role, managing to make each perceptively and refreshingly different from the one before. Their accents and movements are equally well coordinated. Even the most awkward parts of an often awkward script are handled with aplomb-the self conscious pally at the start — This is a stage. You are an audience. We welcome one of you to join us.
Michael Haigh plays the no-character of George. He lumbers on to the stage in a bewildered manner, and proceeds to become more and more bewitched and confounded throughout the production. It is essentially the fault of the script once again, that some of his child-reminiscence sequences were lifeless. This is the sort of thing that can only be real if it is implied. To hear a grown man talking about when he was a child in a pram can be amusing. After the fifth time it becomes tedious.
There is a problem with sustained farce like this however. What initially holds the attention of the audience in The Dumb Waiter' is the underlying humour of the dialogue. What keeps attention is the growth of a tragic perspective in the two characters. The play the joke, suddenly becomes real. Simple comments made by two almost illiterate fellows in a bedroom, become potent appraisals of live. 'Dont Let Summer Come' lacks this development. It ends as it begins on the purely superficial. In fact it tends to be even the opposite of Putter's play — the attempt at real communication with an audience, the identification (albeit reluctant) of the audience, with George, becomes so far destroyed that the last lines of the play:
Sadie: Tonight it was an actor.
Margot: Tomorrow night — who knows?...
Sadie: It could be you.
are the most banal. Without any sort of progression of events or character revelations, the play must rely, like a pantomine, on gutter, movement, stage effects and witicisms to carry it through. I tend to think, despite my enjoyment of the production as a whole that a number of the later scenes could profitably have been cut. I had the feeling that I had already witnessed them earlier in the production.
Notwithstanding my criticisms of the play, I must recommend this production. From the first twirling of the curtains to the last bounce on the bed, the play moved with a fluidity and humour that squeezed quite a lot of water out of an exceedingly dry stone.