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The following review has been written by Henry Russell Hitchcock Jr. '21, tutor and assistant in Fine Arts and a former member of the Dramatic Club.
Against the thirteenth century portal of Freiburg Cathedral in a building of the Germany of just before the war, the Dramatic Club has presented a twelfth century miracle play in a manner which suggests more the period of the building than the period of any of the other elements involved. A miracle play, like all that is ritual or desended or ritual, is a variation on a theme; and in the recurrent miracle plays the text has formed but a very small element of the orchestration. In this play the text is less interesting than in some that have preceded. Or it may be obscured by a frequently infelicitous translation which fortunately is covered up to some extent, by the rich heavy, menotenous reading of the mass of the lines: this general tonality perhaps with the exception of the plain song--offstage--is the most effective element in the production.
With the visual factors of the production--always in a ritual of extreme importance--it is hard to find any others that come up to the level of the thirteenth century set. The lighting obviously, hampered by the practical difficulties the museum offered was aucortain, inaccurate, and showed little plan behind its questionable striving or "effects". Of the costumes only those on which little trouble had been taken--spice, in fact the best, borrowed from the recent production of the "Orange Comedy are very successful. The costumes of the more important characters ranged from the operatic ridiculousness of the High Priest "tastefully gowned in red with pearls and brilliants" set off with an amazing false Card of first dynasty Egyptian origin, through the anachronisms of Herod in the manner of Quentin Matsys and the Second Wise-man in that of the lamented Hoffman, in the sober and mildly successful third wiseman, the Virgan and the Angel (who in passing it may be said was most unfairly made up.)
It is hard to believe, the direction could have been responsible for the acting which ranged from the splendid solemnity and simplicity of the Old Wives--apparently a cuphemism for the mid-wives of legend--to the skipping triviality of Herod's son. He seems to have studied his part very thoroughly, and to have read himself as a veritable Rosencrantz or Guildenstern of the local court.
The present Miracle Play has not been one of the finest productions, but it has at least carried on a fine tradition; a tradition which, while very new, is in the long life of the University little newer than that other ritual of calling "Reinhart".
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