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March 15, 1968 - Image 2

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The Michigan Daily, 1968-03-15

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Page Two

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Friday, March 15, 1968

PageTwoTHE ICHGAN AIL

theatre
Jude': A Speech Department Success,

By FRITZ LYON
Reviewing a student play-
wright is like judging an Olym-
pic fighter - is he a promis-
ing amateur or a second-rat.e
boxer? Are his faults due to
inexperience or lack of ability?
Are the good punches luck or
skill?
The first job is to define your
viewpoint. If you tend to make
allowances for weak points and
emphasize student playwright,
you indulge the author with
gratuitous praise. If you em-

phasize student playwright and
contrast the author unfavor-
ably with Beckett or Pinter, he
suffers from your self-indul-
gence. The critical problem
concerns how much weight you
give to the author's stage of
development.
Richard Reichman's Jude,
the original play now being
performed by the University
Players at Lydia Mendelssohn
Theatre, will probably not
reach Broadway this year, nor
will its author be likely to win

A look at.
jElvira Madigan'
by Daniel Okrent
WHENCLAUDE LELOUCH'S A Man and a Woman came to
Ann Arbor a year ago last fall, the audience reaction was
personified in the block-long lines that queued up outside the
Campus Theatre, all waiting for a chance to see Anouk Aimee
brush the hair out of her eyes with the exquisite grace of a Woman
In Love. Miss Aimee did a fine job,. and maybe A Man and a Woman
was worth the long lines; but Elvira Madigan, a Swedish product
also at the Campus, deserves much more.
Lelouch did a nice job of painting in A Man and a Woman,
and he did portray a love story, but as Lord Byron might have writ-
ten it. Lelouch did not establish any kind of depth; his characters
were merely in love, they did not engage in the necessarily con-
comitant agony of love.
Bo Widerberg, who directed Elvira Madigan, again addresses
himself to a love story, with two very good actors (PiarDegermark
and Thommy Berggren) playing the principles. They are two run-
aways from] earlier lives who attempt to love in an atmosphere
entirely divorced from the intrusion of other persons or external
influences. And, in this attempt, Widerberg displays his superiority
over Lelouch; he presents a love that exists far deeper than the
mere superficialities of touching hands and gazing eyes.
THE TROUBLE WITH Elvira, a famous continental circus
performer, and Sixten, an aristocratic Swede who has deserted
both his family and his nation's army, is that as difficult as it is
for the love to survive in a vacuum, it would be impossible for them
in the society from where they have escaped. So, they must travel
the Swedish countryside, reveling in their exquisite togetherness.
But, as the vain impracticality of their situation becomes in-
creasingly evident with the pains of constant running, Widerberg
starts to weave his artistry. He uses some of the best devices of
timing and parallelism that I have ever seen.
For instance: The couple is in a wide, open field. They smile
at each other as they romp in the grass. They both chase after
butterflies, reaching out at the elusive objects just as they long-
ingly stare at each other. They do not catch the butterflies, nor
will they be able to catch each other in any kind of permanence.
Or: The couple becomes cranky with each other. The
ravishes of gnawing hunger (they have no money, and the easily
recognizable Sixten dare not try to find a job) have begun to
grate their nerves. As the edge of tension finally breaks down
with Sixten's loving gesture, the silence that had encompassed the
entire scene vanishes with the haunting refrain of a Mozart
-concerto.
Or: Sixten is depressed, gloomy. He walks away toward the
nearby seashore. Between the viewer and Sixten, the screen is lush
and rich-colored (the photography in this film is nothing short
of remarkable). Beyond the depressed figure, however, is the
endless expanse of the white sea. There are two entirely different
spheres of emotion, both converging on Sixten.
Each of these devices is employed regularly throughout the
film in an astonishingly balanced cadence, expected each time
and perhaps heightened in effectiveness because of this. Together,
they compose a lush, idyllic narrative that even in its grossly
tragic end, retains a pastoral logic, an ultimate sense.

the Nobel Prize the year after,
but it is certainly superior to
last year's Cowboy in Absen-
tia (ugh).
While he was on campus,
Reichman was regarded as one
of those young writers who had
the potential and, given the op-
portunity, as one of the few
who might break into the open.
His earlier short plays show a
mastery of form and a com-
mand of dialogue - the people
said precisely what he wanted
them to, and the plays said
concisely what he wanted them
to. However, these plays were
often long on craft and short
on life. His subject field (phil-
osophy) became his subject
matter, and characters' speech-
es turned into essays.
In Jude, the mastery of form
is still apparent, even at this
length - 15 actors (12 male,
3 female) play 50 roles, and the
scene changes fluidly as Jude,
the protagonist, reverses his
commitment to one social in-
stitution after another. The in-
stitutions are compared and
combined metaphorically, so
that Jude faces the same con-
flict, no matter which specific
environment he is in.
Despite this neat grafting of
film plastics to the stage, Jude
has problems. A r o m a n t i c
mock-epic, like Peer Gynt, the
play too often substitutes the
ludicrous for the lyric. One be-
gins to suspect that the bur-
lesque is a device to avoid sen-
timentality and melodrama. Al-
though the technical complex-
ity of the montage is impres-
sive, the theme of the play is
oddly simplistic - freedom is
not continuous escape from the
entrapment of institutions, but

the acceptance of individual re-
sponsibility. Big deal. Sections
of the play not protectedby the
guise of burlesque are mawkish-
ly over-emotional.
In spite of these difficulties,
Jude is a funny play, a good
play, and when it finally com-
mits itself to the issue, even a
moving play. It may fail to be
consistent, but it doesn't fail to
be exciting.
The production, under the
direction of Douglas Sprigg,
must be partly responsible for
the excitement. The play works
because the people in it work.
When the play is weak, the ac-
tors don't hedge or apologize.
They act. When the play has
strength and the actors match
that strength, the play goes be-
yond the written script.
In the first ten minutes,
Robert McGill (as Jude II) acts
like Lil' Abner on the verge of
breaking into a chorus, but
when he and the play settle
down, he has a magical power
on the stage. It's more than
energy and it's more than the
variety of emotions he puts
across. He's got the punch.
Eric Brown (Jude I) has
some of that same stuff, but he
uses it differently. As the weak-
er half, he whines and wheedles
and whimpers, and chickens out
at every turn, but he never
loses his half of the stage. With
McGill's presentation a bit too
much Music Man and Brown's
a bit too much Christopher
Robin, both of them still per-
form as well as I have seen in
Ann Arbor.
Some of the actors in second-
ary roles do more than fill in
the gaps. Melvyn Buchner as
Luigi is a guffaw, and Stuart

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Pr e s e n t
UNIVERSITY PLAYERS
A Dark Comedy of DISSENT
-Winner of the 1967 Hopwood Award
Wednesday-Saturday
March 13-16
Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre
Box Office open Daily at 12:30 P.M.
Prices: $1.25 and $1.50
All performances at 8:00 P.M. Sharp!

ude
i

Richard Reichman
Grant as Sergeant Falls is a
belly laugh. John Slade as the
draft board clerk has excellent
control of timing and charac-
ter, and Francine Karasik as
the fat woman and as Bernice
has a bag full of voices and
caricatures. (A one-sentence
summary really can't do these
people justice.)
I'm beginning to feel over-
critical. This play and produc-
tion were the best I have seen
in the speech department this
year. The writing, the directing,
the acting - all were excep-
tional. But although Musket,
the student musical, sells out
weeks in advance every year,
the original play, written, di-
rected, and acted by students,
is the least successful produc-
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speech department every year.
Shows at 1:00-3:30-6:15-900
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color is absolutely gorgeous. The use of music and, equally elo-
quent, of silences and sounds is beyond verbal description. The
performers are perfect-that is the only word."-Bosley Crowther,
New York Times."May well be the most beautiful movie ever
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