Most of us fondly remember a time when we followed A.A. Milne’s classic characters of Pooh Bear and his friends through the Hundred Acre Wood. What we may not know is that Milne was also an accomplished playwright. Covenant College is delighted to present a play written with the same combination of whimsy and wisdom we came to love with Pooh and his pals.
Mr. Pim Passes By, the best known of Milne’s plays, was first performed in 1920 (the same year Milne’s son Christopher Robin was born). It is a light-hearted, jocular, yet surprisingly serious depiction of the tensions generated between traditional and “new-fangled,” ways of viewing love, marriage, art—and even—pig farming.
The show’s namesake, pleasantly absent-minded Mr. Pim (played by freshman, Will Payne) passes by the Marden country estate one day only to inadvertently set in motion the play’s sad-silly-serious dramatic conflict. Country gentleman George Marden, (junior Andrew Lupinek) is content, along with his aunt, Lady Marden (junior Bethany Hicks), to stick to the old ways.
“What was good enough, for his great-great-grandfather is good enough for him.” However, George’s gently diplomatic wife Olivia (junior Julie Pretorius) is rather more amenable to the young people’s approach to life, love and beauty. When Mr. Pim comes bearing a story which, alas, involves a confusion of names, the stage is set for George and Olivia’s comic but painful struggle to determine what they actually believe to be the true nature of marriage, morality, loyalty and love.
Actress Pretorius says the show’s main theme is a battle between the heart and the law; ultimately, it questions whether it is possible to wed justice and mercy. Director Professor Camille Hallstrom adds, “Milne had a prolific and diverse career as a writer. In addition to his children’s literature and plays, he had successful turns as a journalist, humorist, mystery writer, poet, and screenwriter. He served as assistant editor to Punch, (the British satire magazine) for several years, and was assigned to ‘sedentary work’ (i.e., writing war propaganda) during WWI.
Looking back on his career he said ‘The only excuse which I have yet discovered for writing anything is that I want to write it; and I should be as proud to be delivered of a Telephone Directory con amore as I should be ashamed to create a Blank Verse Tragedy at the bidding of others.’ In other words, he excelled in writing what it was fun for him to write, not what others thought it was proper for him to write. And in so doing, he has provided—as all lovers of Pooh know—a corpus which is light-hearted and companionable yet gently insightful and comfortingly wise.”
February 17-25. Tickets, 706.419.1051 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.