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January 31, 1969 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1969-01-31

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FridĀ©y, January 31, 1969


with Kenyatta at the

hUmbs up for tragedy

If they can match last night's Tom Thumb,
the Lord Chamberlain's Players should give a play
every week, Twice.
For with the addition of John Styan as direc-
tor, and the fortunate selection of Henry Fielding
as playwright, the company came up with a pro-
duction as funny-and more importantly, as wit-
ty-as anything done in Ann Arbor in a long,
The Tragedy of Tragedies, or The Life and
Death of Tom Thumb the Great, is straight mock-_
heroic, and the company made it work by un-
abashedly playing for all the laughs. When a
bailiff was killed, he would fall, close his eyes, and
, it up to explain "I am slain, yes, I am slain," be-
fore he fell again. And at the end of the scene,
he took his bows, too.
Although the original play contains enough
coiic material in tiself with burlesque of high
tragedy, the Lord Chamberlain version multiplied
the humor by narrating the footnotes Fielding
wrote along with the play. These footnotes con-
tain erudite literary criticism of the play which
is highly neoclassical and patently absurd. When
Queen Dollollolla intoned, "Be still my soul," the
commentators stopped the action to remark, "A
serviceable phrase much in use now." When Prin-
dess Huncamunca cried out, "0 Tom Thumb, Tom
Thumb, wherefore art thou, Tom Thumb?" the
commentator (H. Scriblerus Secundus by name,
played to the hilt by John Rodenbeck) cited not
Shakespeare but something called Marius by

The villain, leading a rebellion, exclaimed,
"Liberty is like the mustard of life." And Roden-
beck, calmly adjusting his glasses, remarked, "Mr.
Dennis (a contemporary critic) has complained
this mustard is enough to turn anyone's stom-
ach." It is Fielding's genius 'to anticipate criti-
cism of his play not by avoiding it but by in-
cluding it-for laughs.
Much of the best of last night's production
came in these learned extrapolations of nonsense.
Although the spectator might not be familiar
with the tragic theatre of Fielding's time, Tom
Thumb certainly suggests that it must have
been awful. Fieloing's powers of burlesque are as
high here as in Tom Jones, as when Queen Dol-
lolla expresses her fears that she may have
been raped by the bolster on her bed (she re-
members having heard of Jove doing things like
that). She is carrying a bolster around, too. The
virgin heroine Huncaminca is perfectly willing
to marry both the hero, and villain on the same
day and to live with them both. Tom Thumb,
after killing a race of giants, is eaten by an
"overly large cow."
The players also put on a 1535 mystery play,
The Creation of Eve. Unfortunately, the staging
and acting could not compensate for the hack-
neyed plot line, although Bert Hornbeck look-
ed like he was having the best time of his life
playing God. Perhaps it would have been better
if the group had chosen a more humorous or
philosophical medieval play, like the Second
Shepherd's Play or Everyman.

Not one performer undress-
ed, it didn't cost $20,000 - but
the crowd lived it, from start
until the standing ovation fin-
ish. Robin Kenyatta and h i s
African Contemporary Music
Ensemble came to the U n i o n
Ballroom last night and did
their thing. Featuring Mickey
Tucker on piano, Al Mouzon on
drums, Roy Ayers on vibes, Oli-
ver Turner on bass and R o b i n
Kenyatta on sax and flute, the
capacity crowd responded im-
mediately and the show was on.
Kenyatta; who sported a ski
cap a la Archie Shepp, put to-
gether an interesting potpurri
of musicians. One could sense
the mood as the group swung
into its first tune, a Kenyatta
composition, which was met by
cries of "do it", "work your
show" and the likes. Although
the concert had its momentary
lapses, it seemed quite hard to
believe that this group, which
had been whipped together in
the short span of two weeks,
could interplay so well. T h i s
ability to interplay must be at-
tributed to the individual skills
of Mr. Kenyatta's sidemen.
Ayers managed to successfully
blend showmanship with musi-
cal talent. He remained from
start to finish the audience's
hero. Kenyatta, after a slow
start, got in the groove. Putting
together a wide range of sounds,
Kenyatta reminded onelistener
of the "young Coltrane". While
I would hesitate before going
that far, Robin does seem des-
tined for stardom. Ayers and
Kenyatta saved the first h a lf
from being flat.
After intermission, Kenyatta
and Co. got it together. Switch-
Morley Markson's America
Simultaneous: 360 environ-
League Ballroom 7:00 p.m.
- 12:00 p.m. Forty minute
continuous shows
The Life and Death of Tom
Thumb The Great
Lord Chamberlain Players
Angell Hall Foyer 8:00 p.m.
Bang, Bang, You're Dead
University Players
Trueblood Auditorium
8:00 p.m.

ing to flute and doing a Ken-
yatta tune entitled "Must Be,
Must It," the group brought the
concert to a high, fever pitch-
one it maintained until the se-
cond encore. A young soul sis-
ter nearby told it like she felt:
"they are cookin' ". And cooking
they were. Pianist Mickey
Tucker, who heads a trio in New
York, mixed a classical know-
ledge with a jazz idiom and sent
forth a potent message.
As the show approached its
end with another Kenyatta ar-
rangement entitled "Nairobi
Hot Five," the genius of Al
Mouzon (drums) and Oliver
Turner (bass) was allowed to
fully blossom. Mouzon, who
hails from South Carolina, il-
lustrated that he could serve as
both a rallying point and a
sound backup man. Turner,
likewise was sound and his pre-
sence was felt throughout. It is
a tribute \ to Kenyatta that he
was able to blend, what was
seemingly a weird admixture,
into a coherent unit.
Ann Arbor, long starved for
a good jazz concert, had a treat
last night. The show, which ran
for over two hours, must rate as
a high point in the Creative
Arts Festival. It is most un-
fortunate that the African En-
semble could not pick up "about
$3,000" per song.

Hill Auditorium

$1.00 Students , $1.50 Non-Students
Available in Fishbowl and at the Door

{ yI
gyll~qlBBflY OUSB
SFRI. "Janis who?"
SAT. 8:00 P.M. free goodies! -Burt Parks

The Creative Arts Festival
is proud to present on
Sunday, February 1
speaking on
"What's Wrong with America"


8:00 P.M.



"As tightly put together
a suspense movie as you
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month !"
_--Detroit News


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Shows at 1 -3-5-7-9 P.M.
"Unusual and exciting-
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'The Stalking Moon' may
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Thursday and Friday



with NOLAND CLAY - produced by ALAN J. PAKULA - wtwd by ROBERT MULLIGAN ,"screenplay byALVIN SARGEN
adaptation by WENDELL MAYES" from the novel -a* sTAKIGAmOOW E vno m vOLsw * TECHNICOLOR"- PANAVISIOh
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Everybody's Favorite Dirty Old Man Is Back in Town. Putting It Down Once More for a
Whole New Generation of Potential Fields' Cultists. And a Whole Generation of De-
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Humor Is More Up-To-Date Than the Hippest of Contemporary Flicks.
Catch "MY LITTLE CHICKADEE" with the Incomparable Mae West. Then See "YOU
CAN'T CHEAT AN HONEST MAN." That's All It Should Take to Make W. C. Your
Favorite Dirty Old Man, Too.
Thur., Fri. 7:30-Sat. 4:30, 7:30

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