A Nationalists Review of Mary Poppins Part 1

It can be funny to imagine a nationalist walking into a theatre to sit down and watch the musical Mary Poppins. But, one doesn’t need to imagine, I did it. 

In 2020 I found myself with nothing to do one evening while walking down one of Auckland cities main streets. I wondered if there was a bar I could sit at, maybe a friend to catch up with? 

However, something caught my eye that I happened to gaze upon. A sign above the entrance to the theatre which read ‘Mary Poppins The Musical, Now Showing’. Not thinking too much of it, and remembering how much I enjoyed the film ‘The Sound Of Music’ which I had seen a few weeks prior, I figured that I’d give Mary Poppins a go.

Little did I know, I would enjoy the performance so much that I purchased a ticket the next day to see it again.

This musical play captured my imagination at the time, and has continued to capture my imagination since. It is the story of the development of two children, siblings, Jane and Michael Banks. At the surface, the play is seen as a magical nanny who transforms naughty children into ‘practically perfect’. However, in my estimation, Mary Poppins’ roots go far deeper than simply a magical nanny. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have captured so many people’s imaginations for so long. Instead, this play brings to life a time passed. A time when tradition, order and transcendent values were the norm. A time which we as nationalists long for. 

It may seem funny to see a nationalist at a musical such as Mary Poppins. However, it is my opinion that we, as nationalists, have more in common with this musical than the rest of the masses. 

Throughout this series I will be taking apart the Australian and New Zealand version of Mary Poppins. The soundtrack to this musical can be found on Spotify. However, when incorporating context and the physical aspects of the play into my description I will be referring to my experience in Auckland.

If you’re unable to view the YouTube video above, as some people have been experiencing issues, below is the Spotify version

Before continuing to read this review, I would recommend listening to the track embedded above to gain a better understanding of the content being reviewed. Now let’s start at the beginning, with the prologue.

There is a certain beauty in a live performance of classical instruments which simply does not translate to recording. A level of depth and sensation you cannot surround yourself in when hearing a tune out of speakers. Being a musical, music is central to the immersion and emotional essence of the performance. The first thing I noticed, and what is made clear at the beginning of the show as you can hear in the recording, is that the live musicians begin to play and set the tone for the coming show. 

As the emotion felt by the instruments sets in, out walks Bert, a poor artist/chimney sweep who’s very fond of Mary. A person who gives you the impression that they’re too intelligent for their low paying work, but instead of desiring academics and being surrounded by books, Bert is a man who is endearingly cheeky, and at his core has a good heart. He uses his intelligence to live an interesting and exciting life. 

In Berts narrative introduction of the story he lays out the coming characters we will be introduced to in the next scene. “The mother, the daughter, the father and the son” have various problems wrapped around them which we discover throughout the play. The family at the moment is shrouded in chaos as “the threads of their lives are raveling undone”.

In the next set of lines Bert outlines the mechanism to fix this, “twist ’em as tight as a string you might use when you’re flying a kite”. These words represent a reality of order. Just as the kite is unwinded and caught by the wind it is unleashed unto the world flying in any direction with an explosive emphasis. This in essence a chaotic state. But when the kite is wound tightly and becomes ultimately controlled, this is a state of order. 

It’s a fine balance between the two. Having too much chaos will leave you without a place to place your feet. But having too much order creates too much predictability without the capability of excitement and new challenges.

The balance in the Banks household, which Bert is referring to, is far too inclined toward chaos. The solution, to introduce a sense of order and framework aligned with transcendent values to both the children and parents, thus providing guiding principles for their lives. No one can be lost when they have principles to stand on after all.

This lack of guidance is referred to multiple times throughout the play, and is clearly shown when the children, Jane and Michael Banks, disobey orders and run onto the stage with a frustrated nanny chasing behind them in the first scene. Berts line “the nannies who come here, they don’t stay for long” certainly paints a picture much larger than the incident appearing on stage, showing that the children constantly behave in such a manner that multiple nannies have ended up leaving.

Anticipating the unfolding of the rest of the play, the audience captured by the emotions sparked by the musical tune, we sat eagerly fixated to see what would come next. Just as I did then, so shall you dear reader until I see you in part 2 where we unravel the next part of the story.

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