'THERE IS NO
AN AUSTRALIAN PLAY.
Lynn Foster's "There Is No Armour" was given its second performance at the Independent Theatre's clubroom on Saturday night. This is a three-act play, with prologue and epilogue, on
the matriarch theme.
Taking her title from James Shirley's lines, "The glories of our blood and state are shadows, not substantial things; there Is no armour against Fate, Death, lays his icy hands on kings," Miss Foster demolishes the first part of the poet's argument to prove that the success of her nonagenarian heroine In perpetuating the Barry ownership of their estate, was an achievement which, far from being shadowy and unsubstantial, helped to make the backbone of this country.
Elizabeth Barry, the matriarch of the his- toric pastoral property, Minnabooka, is an excellent example of that "dominant person- ality in private life" which, with other "bosses," Bernard Shaw so wittily castigates In his preface to his comedy, "The Million- airess." By her vigorous grip on the affairs of her family over a period of 80 years, the bullying and cajoling Elizabeth contrives to hold them together through a series of de- pressions up to the present time.
Miss Foster's interesting play shows a fino flair for natural dialogue, but lacks move- ment in Its first half and something of psychology on the whole. This is what makes her character of the rebellious Jennifer some- what weak, for so apparently determined a young woman-she is the only female In tho family who defies Elizabeth-would never re- turn to Minnabooka after five years only to show for her vaunted "freedom." the bit- terness from a disillusioning love affair. While the character of the autocratic Elizabeth en- tertains one, the depths of this old lady are .seldom plumbed fully to express her indomi- table nature. She is revealed mostly through petty tyrannies, and shows no great tact or diplomacy when the defeated spirit of her husband reasserts itself in her granddaugh- ter and she makes a typical gesture to stop
THE PLAYERS. .
Eve McElligot's portrayal of the old woman suffered from bad make-up, but she gradually impressed one in the role. In the flashback to 11)58 the actress looked charming as the youthful Elizabeth.
John Appleton, who produced the play with a neat appreciation of Its occult content, was good as the young colonial, James Barry, whom Elizabeth persuades to marry her. In the latter scenes he showed the resigned spirit of the aged and once independent horse breeder, and gave a sensitive rendering of the old man's great-grandson, who, also against his will, and because of his love for her, gives in to Elizabeth and assumes charge of Minnabooka when she dies.
Arnold Barker was splendid as Elizabeth's grandson, Frederick, especially in the scene where the contrite Jennifer returns to Minna- booka. Jessica Noad showed dramatic ability as Jennifer. Robert Montgomery brought out the pomposity and perpetual fuming of Colonel Holden, Elizabeth's father,
Gregory Blaxland stood out In his brief appearance as the rugged stockman, Corkery. His was an excellent make-up. Peggy Legge Willls and Sumner Lock-Elliott were suitably cast as the younger and very sophisticated, not to say contemptuous, generation of the Barry family. Harry McDonald was vigorous as Mr. Mason, who foolishly attempts to pur- chase Minnabooka at the selfish suggestion of Elizabeth's great-grandchildren. As the doddering Charles, John Bohrsman was a silent but pathctic figure in the epilogue.
Miss Foster's play is a welcome addition to Australian drama. It will be presented for a series of Wednesday and Saturday evenings.