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October 18, 1978 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1978-10-18

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The Michigan Daily-Wednesday, October 18, 1978-Page 5

Taut acting inte
By CHRISTOPHER POTTER jackals. She is perpetually obsessed
In the Boom Boom Room, the current with a passion for self-improvement,
production of Detroit's Attic Theatre, is yet the only goal she can conceptualize
,Rabe's is to someday jump from the sleazy
commonly known as David RaesPhiladelphia discotheque where she
~"non-Vietnam play." Such a tag is ilaepi icteu hr h
mislein:Thoughtis playwrghtg s abors, up to the "big time" go-go scene
misleading: Though it is playwright ofNew York.

Raes only drama tnat adoes not use the
war either as a prelude (Streamers),
direct setting The Basic Training of
Pavlo Hummel) or postmortem (Sticks
and Bones), the Viet Nam presence
hangs oppressively over this play like a
silent guillotine, unseen but always in-
tensely, perversely felt.
In the Boom Boom Room carries a,
In the Boom Boom Room
By David Rabe
Attic Theatre
Chrissy........... .. .......Beth Taylor
Susan............... Jacqueline Flannery
Harold... ........................Joe Albini
Guy . .......................Jeff Nahan
Eric ...................... Robert Coyle
Al............ Randy Gianetti
Ralphie.................... Ramon Ramos
Helen ................... Monika Zeigler
Eve Pruden, director; Jeff Nahan, choregraphy;
Donna DiSante, costumedesign; Charles Chriss-
man, lighting design
decidedly palpatating, history. It was
premiered by Joseph Papp's Lincoln
Center Company in 1973, a production
reportedly wracked by stormy onstage
and backstage disputes throughout
rehearsal and even beyond opening
night. The play received wildly mixed
notices from the New York critics, was
swiftly shelved and rewritten by Rabe,
tthen was given a revamped second
premiere a year later. By then the
show's behind-the-scenes notoriety had
simmered down, and the critical recep-
tion was generally more favorable the
second time around.
THE MOST notable impression one
takes away from the Attic Theatre's
production is how much better In the
Boom Boom Room plays when seen in-
stead of merely read (many dramas
elicit just the opposite effect). The set-
ting is the mid-1960's, the protagonist a
young woman named Chrissy - a
would-be go-go star but more importan-
tly a child of scorn, a transcendent vic-
tim of the age. Though pretty and
energetic, she is agonizingly trapped in
moral and aesthetic blindness toward
Unwanted at birth, thwarted by a
minimal education and squalid en-
vironment, Chrissy wanders endlessly
through a surrealistic Hell on earth,
preyed upon at every turn by human

Chrissy longs desperately for love,
yet hasn't the slightest idea how ti find
it: Surely not from the mother who
tried to abort her, the father who raped
her as a child, the homosexual in her
apartment building who first adores,
then scorns her, the sultry, cynical
Disco housemother who casually
seduces, her, or the dismal parade of
male lovers who bring her less than
even momentary comfort.
IN RABE'S WORLD, Chrissy is born
dead. She knows her own agony,
writhes in it, yet can verbalize it only in
pathetically stunted form. She cries
again and again that she's afraid she's
"gonna go nuts", yet can receive no
solace from the melancholy fellow suf-
ferers around her. When she finally,
desperately flings herself into a
marriag with a brutal psychotic, she
seals her own doom. For Rabe's vic-
tims there is no salvation, in anything
Thus goes Boom Boom Room's shell-
shock message. When reading the play,
one can practically hear Rabe in the
background shouting "False values,
false values! !" throughout. Chrissy is
of course merely a symbol of a nation
which has lost its sense of self; as the
far-off war disintegrated into a moral
abyss, so back home did we plunge into
distortion and dissipation of our own
values. .
All of which seems not only politically
disputable but also decidedly heavy-
handed literary material to simply sit
down and read. It's Rabe the moral
polemicist on the loose again, and when
couched in dramatic terms, his
message seems ethically ,and struc-
turally fragmented and above all,
numbingly unpleasant enough to defeat
its own purpose.
currently first-rate Attic Theatre
production does for the play. For one
thing, the tiny, back-basement in-
timacy of the stage and the audience
seating lends a scary veracity to the
show's low-level discotheque which
serves as Rabe's .constant visual
metaphor for America's moral decay.
The setting also illuminates the play's

profound overtones of sex, a subject
Rabe clearly regards as a form of war-
In an especially chilling speech,
Chrissy says, "Sometimes I'm on the
street walking and a car goes by and
it's dark and all men in it, and I can
hardly hear the car out of which one of
them is looking and I don't know why he
hates me, but he does, I know, and I
choke for fear he'll hurt me in some
terrible way, I don't know why." At
moments like this, the audience's
physical closeness makes the
protagonists's terror almost touchable.
The Attic's cast - with one exception
- does wondrous things with Rabe's
dialogue, bringing out the author's sur-
prising gift for the sudden insertion of
hysterically funny repartee, which con-
tinually crops up amidst the most
unrelenting misery. This relieving
element (which shows up negligibly in;
book form) makes Boom Boom Room
not only easier on the viewer's psyche,
but lends it a kind .of schizo quality
which ironically makes for much better
drama - there is indeed humor in Hell.
EVE PRUDEN'S taut, no-nonsense
direction corrals and solidifies Rabe's
rambling scenario into an intense, often
quite lyrical tableau of the dark side of
society. She has, as best I could tell, cut
only one short scene and has also added
an exquisite slow-motion ballet in
which the people of Chrissy's world act
out their cruel predilections in half-
light, with disco music throbbing
satanically in the background.
But the primary puissance in this
production is provided by Beth Taylor
in the role of Chrissy. A strikingly
lovely actress who combines her
thespian talents with a tremendous
physical energy, Taylor projects her
character's yearnings and anguished
insecurities with such an all-out
dynamism that she leaves the audience
as drained as she herself must feel by
show's end.
The sheer force of her character
(Chrissy is onstage throughout the
play) inevitably overshadows a mostly
excellent sgpporting cast, including
Jacqueline Flannery as the disco men-
tor who lusts after Chrissy, Robert
Coyle as an uptight milquetoast lover
who wants to reform her, and Randy
Cianetti as the erratic conman who
finally marries her. The only false ac-
ting notes are registered by Joe Albini
as Chrissy's father; clad in a long-
haired fright wig (or perhaps it's his
own hair - either way it looks
ludicrous), Albini converts his blue
collar character into a kind of prissy,
mealy-mouthed kook who seems

nsifies 'Room'

stylistically to belong in The Wizard of
Oz rather than in the stark surroun-
dings of Rabe's world.
In the Boom Boom Room marks the
second superlative Attic production in
as many years of a Rabe drama. Last
season's staging of Streamers again
brought out qualities one might
overlook if reading the play straight.
It's evident that so long as Rabe's work
continues to be graced by presentations
as good as the Attic's, he will remain a
prime force in contemporary American
What remains to be judged is whether
Rabe's moral rage is matched by a
talent that can eventually transcend his
single-subject fury and move on to fur-
ther ranges. This is an awfully big,
diverse world, and the war did end six
years ago.

A good laugh
P.T.P. GUEST-Artist-In-Residence William Leach, left, and Kathy Eacker
Badgerow, right, will appear in P.T.P.'s "She Stoops to Conquer," Oliver
Goldsmith's 18th century English comedy, tonight through Oct. 22 at the Power

Coryell strums
By ANNE SHARP titles I have ever run across), then
ned up the amp for an air-raid s
Larry Coryell, in his heyday the fusion of "The Funky Waltz". In
"Professor of fusion guitar," came to Earle's intimate setting, one could t
the Earle Monday night. the strings of one of the aband
A slight, gray-curled man with big acoustics buzzing in response to
glasses, a perpetual smile of quiet and cranked-un sound.
deep pleasure, and no underwear "God dayim," remarked Coryell,
(grotesquely obvious each time he bent ting down the offending instrument
down in his sheer white slacks to pick down on its strings, giving us ano
up an instrument), the distinguished peek through his slacks.
jazz-rock artist opened with a few riffs DURING THE second set, Cor
on a mother-of-pearl inlaid acoustic played music by some old friends
guitar. As the evening progressed, one Shankar of John McLaughlin, Ca
got the impression that Coryell was not Santana, Chick Corea. For Shank
so much performing as letting the "Spiritual Dance", he cunningly m
audience in on a little private jam his 12-string acoustic sound like a
session. Whatever polish the perfor- dian sitar. "Europa", by Sant;
sounded quite like traditional p
jazz, while Corea's "Spain': emerg
refreshingly un-Spanish. Perhap
honor of the new Pope, Coryell brok
to "Roderigo Reflections" with his
Or By mail from
Comic Opera Guild, 432 S
e deIld1

tur- version of t
iren sonifies "(
the Heaven" a
hear Davis, John
ones and ending
the disco." The[
Coryell ph
set- (he had as
face 10:30, and t
ther fashion, his
(but never
ryell R&B, 'samba
: Al roll.
arlos Near the
kar's turned up th
nade a riff from J
n In- from the Su
ana, media-hype
iano with fear. T
ed as he's hard to
s in musical cat(
.e in- just call it ai
own fun with a gu

he Pater Noster, which per-
Our Father, who art in
as Duke Ellington, Miles
Coltrane and Jimi Hendrix,
with "And lead us not into
house agreed emphatically.
ayed for two 40-minute sets
second show that night at
wo more on Tuesday) in this
style at times approaching
exactly reaching) jazz,
a, and heavy metal rock 'n'
end of the show, he again
e speakers, and roared into
imi Hendrix's "Third Stone
un'' that would make any
rock guitar virtuoso quake
'he man has talent, though
pigeonhole in a convenient
egory. Jazz? Fusion? Let's
man having a hell of a lot of

r"SS Opera

'r 21

2 pm - $300
8pm - $4.00

T I X - I N F O
JACOBSON'S "J" SHOP 11:00 to 3:00
outh Fourth Ave Ann Arbor, 48104
8ohn 7hcat

F .

c fMcride1~

Dreyfuss hot in 'fix"

Spirited comedy, acute emotion, ten-
der expression and intense drama all
congeal in Richard Dreyfuss' wonder-
ful performance in The Big Fix. Moses
Wine is an extraordinary character, by
far Dreyfuss' most finely-played role
since American Graffiti. This un-
wielding grasp on the role is absolutely
essential, for the movie attempts to
look inside the head of Moses Wine, as
the opening suggests by gazing back at
him through a pair of binoculars he is
using.Dreyfuss' handling of the role is
tested as the film prods and tears at
Wine, but he perseveres and the
character is full.
Moses is a self-made private eye, an
ex-radical from Berkeley back in the
feverish late-60's. His ex-wife Suzanne
is also an ex-radical from the same
days. He is unexpectedly visited by
Lila, an ex-girlfriend, and still another
ex-radical who offers him an in-
vestigation job, and thus begins the
LILA IS campaigning for a California
gubernatorial candidate, and someone
is dirtying the campaign with leaflets
connecting the candidate with a fren-
zied (and indicted) Berkeley radical,
Howard Eppis. Wine is commissioned
to uncover who is behind this and why.
Campaign manager Sam Sebastian can
give him no clue, and from there he is
muddled by dead ends and false leads
(some of which are not so false).
Moses falls in love with Lila, who has
sparked his life with new direction and
solid footing. With unanticipated shock,
Lila becomes an ex-Lila, and Moses
stumbles upon the freshly-plugged cor-
pse. Sam fires Wine to avoid any cam-
paign connection with the murder, but
the case soon becomes a personal mat-
ter for Wine. He is accused, chased,
kidnapped, and shot at as the puzzle
unveils many intricacies and in-
volvements he had never suspected. He
discovers that another infamous
radical was present at Lila's murder,
but the man has vanished.
x Finally, Moses comes upon a mad-
man's scheme to explode an L.A.
freeway during rush hour, but can say
nothing because his suspicions are un-
Moses Wine falls, Richard Dreyfuss

the smae, but he knows why. His ex-
wife complains that he does not see
where his life is going, but cannot even
tell when he finds direction. Humor,
too, is never lost upon Richard
Dreyfuss. Very few actors can ram a
finger up their noses and escape
without harming the film's propriety,
but Dreyfuss is unquestionably one to
do it. Moses Wine overflows with wit of
every sort, wit that charms from mere
propensity. He is even outrageous in his
lying, and the question remains to the
end: How did Moses really break his
Wine's character overwhelms prac-
tically every other in the film, leaving
only one other worthy of note. This is
Aunt Sonya, played beautifully by Rita
Karin, a. parody of the radicals with
whom the movie deals. She is a great,
loud woman, originally a Russian Jew.
Sonya seems to spend most of her time
at a center for elderly Jews discussing
politics with anyone willing to debate
her. She stands for freedom for all and
claims distrust of the government in
typical radical fashion; and yet she
remains the ever-Jewish aunt. The

paradox of the character is h
in place by Karin, and the p
generated is a great succ
Sonya is as vivid as Moses,a
If The Big Fix is about M
then it also concerns itself,
the man is - an ex-radical
endeavors to illustrate wher
radicals of '68 have fallen,a
found their causes wortht
As the decade ended, How
almost mournfully explains,r
fell out of fashion and lost
support, and the fighters wer
turn elsewhere. So, where
turn? Some looked from wor]
to their own egos in medi
haughty self-searching. Thos
sought worthy causes found
without meaning, like polit
The Big Fix is a movie th
you into it before you can ob
spark of fantastic, uplifting
ment in the grey mediocril
modern films. You should w
this movie - maybe twice.

mance lacked was made up for by the
sheer personality of Coryell's music;
and while that is not particularly for-
held firmly mal (a former Coryell buff remarked to
personality me that it all sounded like scales to
ces.nty him) it has, as Dr. Frankenfurter would
aess. Aunt say, its own naive charm.
and just as CORYELL DOES NOT simply play
.i, the guitar, he plays with it, gently
oses Wne, twanking off notes like Harpo in a
The wfilm reverie, yanking a string sidewise with
. the grem a fret finger, slackening or tightening
e the great the lower E in mid-chord. Moving from
thd if they the mother-of-pearl acoustic to a baby
the effort, grand piano for "A Song for Jimmy
yard Eppis Webb", Coryell drifted into an amor-
radicalism phous Twilight Zone-like melody,
its public playing off high, tinkling keys against
e forced to low, ominous ones, banging on the
did they keyboard like an angry child, quickly
Idly causes rising up and popping over to stroke the
tation and piano's inner strings, finally returning
se who still to his seat to play a series of heartwar-
only ones ming chords.
tical cam- Closing "the acoustic portion of my
set," as Coryell periodically remarked
hat sweeps just before plugging in his electric
ject. It's a guitar, he played a lovely "My Funny
entertain- Valentine" (one of the stupidest song
ty of most
vant to see

"Jarrett's Solo Concerts: The word incredible is an understatement here..
"Jarrett transcends jazz or any other pigeonhole; he has redefined the role of the
piano in contemporary music. .." LEONARD FEA THER, LA TIMES
Orchestra $95 - 80; $alcony 95 - 85 - 7s0
Tickets available at: FORD AUDITORIUM BOX OFFICE and all I L. HUDSON Ticket
Centers. Mail orders, send certified check or money order to:
Civic Center Ticket Service
20 E. Jefferson, Detroit, rich 48226
___ nufue e t e~re ie, a e nviq

Department of Journalism presents
Louis Filler Antioch University
Whiskey Rings and Watergates: Dynamics in
Muckraking and Social Reform
Thursday, Oct. 19-3:10p.m. *
Natural Science Aud.
A t_61Coiny by ( lierG)I(11 11

Opens Tonight!,
Tickets on Sale!

8 PM

Jules and the polar bears.
playfully disruptive,
like all of nature's clever tricks.

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