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November 06, 1969 - Image 2

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Page Twa

THE MIICHIGAN DAILY

Thursday, November E>, 19ti9

P---.:m-gmmme Tw o THEmm M ICH IG A N DAILY Thursdayl111111

.

theatre
'Conjuror': The plight of the Woeful Playwright

By JOHN ALLEN
Funny you should mention.
Evan Hunter's new play, The
Conjuror, isa play about a
playwiright trying to write a
play called The Conjuror. The
playwright is Jewish, and his
name is Max Edelman -- ini-
tials M. E. 4 That spells "me,"
in case you didn't notice.) Max
is unhappy about writing "the
television crap," to use his own
phrase, and unhappy about
writing movie scripts. Evan
Hunter writes (or has written)
television and mlovie scripts.
Funny you should mention.
On the day Max sits down to
start his play 1} He finds out
his daughter is pregnant; 2>
He has a bad argument with his
agent; 3? He has a bad argu-
ment with his wife over an
affair lie once had in N e w

Haven; 4, His wife tells him
that their 17-year-old son has
told her to go to hell and that
she is a bitch; 5) The maid
who is black ) tells him o f f
because she has seen one of
his old movies on television in
which a white man kills a black
man and calls him a "nigger,"
thus insulting her race - add-
ing with some acuity that you
can't tell what a man meant;
you can only tell what he said.
We are meant to recognize that
there is keen irony in the ob-
servation - that the maid is
not a competent judge of aes-
thetic matters. She is simply a
typical dumb black domestic. I
mean - well, she simply hasn't
had the advantages - or rather
- of course, as a character in
the play she gets to utter this
line of Truth .. .
The scene in question, com-

ing toward the end of the se-
cond act, was simply the m a s t
embarrassing of a string of em-
barrassing scenes, a kind of last
straw handily illustrating h o w
godawful it is to have Every-
thing Happen At Once. All a
playwright really wants, of
couse, is the opportunity to work
quietly at his art, free of in-
terruptions, thereby having a
chance to say Something Mean-
ingful, to Define Life Anew.
Of course, this is not Mr.
Hunter's dilemma, it is Max's.
We know better than to assume
that Max is really Evan Hunter
in disguise. Mr. Hunter has fin-
ished his play and Max can't
even get started on his. But
then, Max tells us twice that
"one man's condition is every
man's condition" - once at the
beginning, once at the end.
That is called "form," and is

Titus Andronicus':

hCurbing that Oriental yen

not to be confused with "con-
tent" or "meaning" or message."
Or is it?)
We know it is not Mr. Hunter
trying to tell us - this because
he could have done so more
effectievly by buying a half-hour
of television time for a paid po-
litical announcement on behalf
of Suffering Playwrights. Mr.
Hunter preferred to write a
play.
And it is a play full of
cliches, melodrama, clever built-
in slams at the critics, references
to openings in college towns,
and the like. Its novelty, if it
can be called that, is its un-
abashed desire to give us a sym-
pathetic look at the Then Gen-
eration. They deserve better.
The play does a disservice to
its production as well. James
Whitmore in the title role,
Audra Lindley as his wife, and
'' Catherine Burns as his daugh-
ter have to huff and puff a
good deal to put some life into
things. Mr. Whitmore does so
valiantly, but tires himself out
in the process. Miss Lindley and
SMiss Burns might have tried a
Slittle harder. Marcella Cisney
kept a large cast moving at a
good pace, but was not able to
find in the play what wvas not
there to begin with some cen-
tral thrust capable of carrying
the loose ends to some sort of
resolution.
But the loose ends simply
multiplied - perhaps to let us
know that the play was a play
about a playwright at Loose
Ends. One might have had more
respect for Max Edelman, how-
ever, if he had been able to take
a moment out from his labors
to do something for his daugh-
ter. Being pregnant with an un-
born play, of course, is a more
immediate problem.
But Mi'. Hunter need not be
offended by my comments. I
am simply writing a review as
though I were a reviewer for a
college newspaper. It would be
atypical of me not to be a little
put off by a play that tries so
hard to state its case for the
Then Generation. Deep down,
where I am sincere, I really
likedfit.

MATINEE 1:30-Adults $1.50
(I 'TONIGHT 8 P.M.-Adults $1.75
ACADEMY AW ARD WINN ER!
BEST ACTRESS! BARBRA STREISAND
COLUMBIA PICTURES and RASTAR PRODUCTIONs +
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HELD OVER--RD BIG WEEK
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"'Putney Swope' is attracting crowds day and
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the fans of I Am Curious (Yellow).' Downey's
trump card is his refusal to honor the taboos
that hollywood fastidiously obeys."
--Newsweek
"PUTNEY SWOPE"
ha. run\.. '-OU
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LIZ RICHARD
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Are you sure S. I. Hayakawa started this way?
"This is the Liz I knew"
-Eddie Fisher
NOVEMBER 7-8-9
Friday-Saturday-Sunday
7:00-9:15-Aud. A.-75c (peanuts)
Doors open 6:00. Please come early
-READ AND USE DAILY CLASSIFIEDS-

Daily Classijieds
Bring Results

By MIChAEL ALLEN
The University Players' pro-
duction of the gory Titus An-
dronicus is a pantomime. The
best moments arm at the end
vhen you laugh as everybody is
getting eaten in pies and put
into red silk sacks. What's more
there are lots of gorgeous
vaguely oriental costumes and
fabulous wigs and hideous vil-
lians and cymbals and gongs
and the two girls on the musi-
cal noises are superb.
However, the production as
directed by William Halstead
has nothing to do with William
Shakespeare or «whoever it was
> ho concocted the bedtime plot
and studded it awith classical
imagery and rant and Renais-
sance passions. But the pro-
gram notes say that it does.
We are told this is going to
be performed as though "by a
company of the classical theatre
of China." It will suggest the
"C r i e n t a i conventionalized
theatre and Shakespeare's sim-
ilar conventionality inspired by
a different but somewhat sim-
ilar cultural heritage" - what-
ever that might mean. Certain-
ly, bits and pieces of these
oriental conventions work: the
stylized weep ing of Marcus or"
the angry stamps of Tamora's
sons are effective. But many of
the gestures are too distracting
for a play like this which is so
verbally flamboyant. The over-
all result of the Oriental setting
is to reduce it to the level of
boring and unbelievable farce.
A case in point are the hunt-
ing scenes which contain some
of the best writing, but which
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become quite ridiculous when
everybody prances around the
stage like Japanese jack-rabbits.
Of course it is arguable that
the play is nothing more than
crude and stupid melodrama
anyway and that it ought to be
reduced to the level of the ridi-
culous. But what is the point of
this? Wouldn't Jack and the
Beanstalk be much more fun?
Contrariwise, if one has a yen
for the Oriental why-not pre-
sent an oriental play? There is
little point expending so much
time and energy to get one or
two sick laughs out of m a d
Titus' revenge if that is all one
can get out of it.
But the play does have more
to .offer. The central scenes
have some really powerful mo-
ments and some of the language
is fine. More important than
that the play grapples with vio-
lence and horror in a way that
requires more than just gusto
and a bloody gimmick or two.

-Daily--Richard Lee
Putting it into a Vietnamese
or Biafran setting would have
surely had more point. The play
may be a failure but when it
works it works atthe level of
the horrifyingly real; it is not
meant to be distanced by ritual
gesture and balletic poses, how-
ever effective these might be in
another context. It is a Renais-
sance play: to present it as Mr.
Halstead has presented it is to
turn it into a colorful freak.
There is little one can say
about the acting, since the inter-
pretation requires undividual-
ized characters. However, I did
like Aaron the unredeemably
wicked Moor (Arthur McFar-
land) and Lavinia (Camille
Hardy) and Marcus (Michael
Hardy) who were particularly
good together. But the piece
de resistance is a huge green
dragon that stares out. at you
from the backdrop with lumin-
ous eyes. That at least is pure
Sino-Romano-Elizabethan fun.

PETITIONING NEW MEMBERS
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Sex, Students, and the New Morality
Brief reviews of some important books will be followed by informal
discussions of the views and issues presented. While the books
announced will be the basis for the presentations, other current
literature will also be considered. Open to all interested persons.
THURSDAY EVENINGS AT 7 P.M.
FIRST METHODIST CHURCH
State and Huron, Pine Room (Basement)a
TON IGHT
NOVEMBER 6--"Living with Sex -The Students'
Dilemma" (Hettinger)
Reviewer-LEONARD SCOTT. Counseling Director
O"ffice of Religious Affairs
AHEAD
NOVEMBER 13-"Abortion" (Lader'
-aau. Df'ID at1' l c r ,, . ,r,;r,-n

2455 5. STATE
OPEN Mon., Thurs. & FrI --10-9
Tues. Wed, Sat -0-6 Sunday--12-6
BENEFIT FOR
CHICAGO CONSPIRACY
8
TONIGHT AT 8:30 P.M.
Union Ballroom
GUEST SPEAKER: DEFENDANT
RENNIE DAVIS

L D 2AEMIfRE

<'

MON., NOV.3- SAT., NOV.8

LINDL.EY

JAMES
WHITMORE

CATHERINE
BURNS

TMe

'y EVAN HUNTER

i

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