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'Ici on Parle Francais'

'Ici on Parle Francais'

On Monday, July 7, in the Concert Chamber there was not an empty seat to be had when the students of French at VUC provided the programme at the last meeting of the Wellington French Club. The occasion was the celebration of France's National Day (actually July 14) a day which should not cease to have meaning for us, for It was the day on which the Bastille fell to the army of the French people.

The meeting opened with short speeches by the President, Mme. R. Finlayson and His Excellency the Minister for France, Mr. Lancial. These were followed by the main item of the evening, a full-length two-act play, "Mort ou Vif" ("Dead or Alive") by Max Regnier, first played in Paris two years ago. The play provides the audience with the same sort of fodder as a detective thriller but at the same time it consciously and wittily burlesques such forms of entertainment. The plot centres round a "Murder Party," a game beloved by respectable people who have nothing better to do. It is found however that the "pretend" corpse is in fact only too real and the rest of the play, including some very humorous scenes, is concerned with the discovery of the murderer.

There was no question as to whether the play itself was dead or alive. The actors displayed all the melodramatic vim and vigour which was required and kept the audience guessing. What with a fake detective, a manufacturer of fantastic burglar alarums, a long-lost husband who excused himself from the wedding breakfast table never to return, a card-sharp and his illegal wife, the odd entomologist of doubtful sanity and a sleep-walking servant, one never knew quite what was coming next.

The play demanded a great deal of hard work and was soundly produced by Prof. Boyd-Wilson and Miss Huntington who were assisted in its running by a large and willing group of students. Thanks are also due to Chris Pottinger, Paul Cotton and Robin Adams for make-up and stagemanaging. The cast was as follows: the fake detective. Ray ("Stick-emup") Stone; Mme. Finlayson, Prof. Boyd-Wilson, Mme. Scotten, Piera Munro, Lindsay Macdonald, R. Hereford, Prof. Miles, J. McArthur, George Gay and D. Carrad, over half of them students and most of the others connected with the modern languages staff of VUC.

It is seldom if ever that the public has such a chance to see students doing something creative which is at the same time a direct product of their academic work. Extrav. and Major Production hardly qualify under the second requirement. The play gave obvious pleasure to the large audience in which were a great number of persons from the Diplomatic Corps, visitors from five or six different countries, students, and Wellington members of the Club. The cast were well chosen for their ability to speak French "as she is spoke" and it was a pleasure to hear so few traces of New Zealand accent. The programme was a witness to the liveliness of the Modern Languages faculty and to the pleasant and friendly relations existing between its staff and students.

Barbara Fougere.