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Sydney University Dramatic Society's opening performances of Cocteau's "Orphée" and Shakes- peare's "Pericles" at the Con- servatorium on Saturday rarely
rose above the most moderate amateur theatrical standard, and sometimes fell below it. But this week's performances should benefit from the rehearsal.
So much witty preparation and precious affectation had gone into the advance publicity about these two quaint plays, all of it in the tone of a saucy undergraduate prank, that it was a great disappointment to find that the goods delivered did not tally with the invoice.
All of the clever tricks of "Orphée," in which Cocteau brings the arts of a conjuror and illusionist to the stage, were fumbled, some of them very badly. It is no use arranging to have a man stand miraculously in mid air if the audi- ence is also allowed to see the help- ing hands that hang him up
Because of bad diction, most of the dialogue was smudged Cocteau's brittle, irreverent modern treatment of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth is a symbolist, quiz - and very
funny - when one does know what the characters are saying; it becomes quite impenetrable and quite un- funny when only one word in a dozen emerges clearly from the tempest of talk.
Nigel Hawkins's Orpheus - a shock of black hair, a brilliant red shirt, and two wild black eyes - had tremendous vitality, but he shouted his lines with such reverberating bluster and such great speed that it was often difficult to sort out his sentences Helene Chryssikos satu- rated her lines so thoroughly with her French accent that her Eurydice, mimicking an atelier model's pouting pettishness and slouching ennui, was also unintelligible at times The costumes were good, and Sidney Nolan's scenery was in tune with the play,
"Pericles," with the first two acts cut out and several other merciful excisions, was played in Napoleonic costumes, with plenty of emphasis on what film censors call "cleavages "
Jean Bellette's passionate, scorching decor carried enough furnace flames to boil Shakespeare's preposterous story of storms and sea-water. Its
vigorous imaginativeness weighed down upon the halting action of
There was some good acting and sometimes the players were able to tame the unruly absurdities of plot and verse. The reunion of Pericles and his long-lost daughter was handled with deep compassion by John Lawrence and June Wimble. There was a touch of real brilliance in the way that Gordon Gostelow, brimming with Peter Cushing man- nerisms acted the role of the bawdy