Switches on two standard themes provide the material for the New Theatre Workshop's first 1955 offering of student-written plays: His Father's Image, by William Amory, and Inside Contemporania, by Hayden Richards.
In His Father's Image Amory has reversed the psychological dramatists by using the theme of a son dominated by the misogynistic ideas of his father as a vehicle for gentle whimsey. His sense of the ridiculous comes through pleasantly in the innate good-humor of his characters, all of whom are provided with an adequate supply of pithy remarks to maintain the lightness of the script. Robert Beatey as the son, Peggy Groome as his young, Irish wife, and Joanna Hutchins as her fairy godmother give their parts plenty of spirited individuality. And if wit and enthusiasm were enough, the play would come off very successfully. As it stands, however, it suffers from weak directing by Woody Price. The handling of asides, admittedly difficult, is clumsy in spots, and the timing often seems disjointed, with the result that the play lacks requisite smoothness.
But where His Father's Image is weakest, Richard's Inside Contemporania is most impressive. The author has written an engaging satire on the idealistic stranger visiting the modern scene, which requires near-perfect execution for success. Director Harold Scott has handled it admirably. His groupings, timing, and gestures are carefully thought out to exploit the opposing strains of modern jargon and idealistic declamation in Richards script, so that its humor is correctly balanced with its more sobering import. It is to Scott's credit that not a line is lost, especially in the expertly-managed final scene.
Edward Golden, as the stranger, is a fine mixture of bewilderment and exasperation, as he plays against a uniformly excellent cast of Contemporanians--James Rieger, Steven Stearns, Ann Rand, Tina Cowley, and Randy Redfield. Background piano music during the intervals maintains the staccato rhythm of modern speech that Richards handles so well.
Although His Father's Image comes out second best of the afternoon because it suffers in execution, both plays are easily up to the thoroughly satisfying standard the workshop set last spring with its first student productions.