Current Advocate Reviewed
The Irish Players, rest their souls! continue to obsess the undergraduate Extreme Left. In the very slender current issue of the Advocate we are blessed with a burlesque of Synge, a parallel sketch of "The Scottish Players," and, as a communication, a defence of "The Playboy." Acknowledging the fidelity of the Advocate as a mirror of what most engages the literary consciousness of undergraduates, when it is pointed out that an editorial paragraph discusses the Harvard Prize Play, and three other pages bristle with reviews of plays in Boston, this seems to be going a bit strong. Particularly as there is nothing else of special value or interest in the number. "Professor Spink" continues his mildly satirical lectures in a style which will at once establish its familiarity for readers of the Advocate files of the early eighties; Mr. Amery-Small, and Mr. Austin Van Bent (genteel names!) incur exposure by a pointer dog in an attempt to evade the game laws of the state of Michigan, all incidental to trifles like lying and forgery,--which incidents are smugly reviewed by the principals when "the lounging-room of the Somerset Club was cool and pleasant." Is this art or realism?
And is drama, then, such an overwhelming issue in Cambridge? The defence of "The Playboy" by one who signs himself "Van N," is intelligent and spirited, but scarcely contemporary. The reviews, as routine, may be allowed to pass. "The Scottish Players" is thin anecdote, defensible if the manuscripts in the upper right-hand drawer are few. Alone of all this, the parody of Synge by Mr. McVeagh has excuse for its ink. As this:
"The dead man spat across the room to the fire-place and hit it square. Bones shivered with aesthetic pleasure."
"At this point two well-known Back Bay dowagers were carried fainting from the theatre, and trained-nurses stood ready at the head of every aisle."
The spontaneous satire of this sketch is that irresponsible wit of undergraduates which is usually ignorant, sometimes cheap, yet often the arrow to the bull's-eye. When the Advocate wishes to be amusing it can be the most so in this vein. Otherwise, the issue invites the remark of a biographer of Hawthorne in the period when that author was journalizing over the progress of his cabbages and carrots: "There seemed to be a general vacancy in the range of his vision."