The Michigan Daily-Saturday, November 4, 1978-Page 5
'LaMancha'a broken dream
By JOSHUA PECK '
Apart from acting ability, sharp
direction, good design, and prowess a
singing and dancing, there is an
element which successful musicals
and for that matter, all shows, tend t
share. Some call it electricity. Mos
simply think of it as energy. Whateve
its precise nature, most audiences
recognize it when they see it, and even
Man of La Mancha
Lyvdia Mendelssohn Theatre
Cervantes/Don Quixote......David Marshall
Aldonza..... ...............Jane Kinsey
Governor/Innkeeper ........... Michael Goz
Duke/Dr. Carrasco..........Jim Patterson
Padre .. ...................... Peter Manis
Antonia ...............Toni Wilen
Housekeeper ................ Mary Spengler
Barber. ...............;.....Peter Slutsker
Mitch Leigh, music; Joe Darion, lyrics;
Dale Wasserman, book; James Stern, director;
Peter Kentes, choreographer; Leif Bjaland,.
,nus'icdirecor;Ren iain nWhitelyvoicalI fireifr;
JIM STERN'S staging of the show is
smooth, if well-worn. He does have his
slips, though. How is it that Dr. Carasco
cau forcibly eject Aldonza from
Jane Kinsey is the center of attraction in Musket's current production of "Man
of La Mancha."
Beckett works play
upo n tenBse -m, o ion
By RICH LORANGER
Sometimes a night of entertainment
'eed not include enjoyment. It takes a
delicate atmosphere to do such a thing.
The RC Player's rendition of Samual
Beckett provides the atmosphere; it is
up to you to subject yourself to it. This
weekend and next, the Player's
production of Endgame and three other
short works by Beckett is available for
your entertainment, if you can face up
to his absurd, out-of-mind drama.
and other short works
By Samual Beckett
RC A udloriu n
"Come and Go: A Dramaticule"
Ru .............................Lori Jacobson
Vi ........ .........Suzanne McDonough
Flo .... ...............Shawn Ann Yardley
Head ........................John Kelly Tolford
Voice ........................... Martin Walsh
A ...... ................ Blake Radcliffe
B....... .....................Jeff Wine
Nagg....... ..............Drew Allison
Martin walsh, Peter Ferran, and Hilary Cohen.
directors; Ned Richardson, set design and
construction; Bob Cantor, 10htin dexii-n;
Nancy Jane Gildhart, costumer.
Actually, it is esential to know what
you are getting into before you
approach Beckett. Once his plays
begin, he takes command and you lose
all control, all perception of what is
going on. In Beckett's world, reality
twists itsb1l into the 'unrecognizable,
and life mantsi less .than nothing: The
characters are all incomplete. They
must cling desperately to each other,
usually in hatred, in endless hopes of
being whole together. When they let go,
THE RC PLAYERS are an
educationally-oriented theater group.
With this objective, they demand
preciseness. The performances
'.conform strictly to Beckett's reality,
and the actors strive to inflictrpotent
effects of his works on the audience.
The characters are heartless without
knowing it. They are dissected, half-
men groping for their other halves.
..The first two plays of the night, Come
and Go and That Time, are incredibly
oppressive. The first, a six-minute
dramaticule, is a mild introduction tp
Beckett's forceful farce. It presents
three frigid, personless women, old
friends, reuniting to continue the
pointless silence that they once had
with each other. For a full fifteen
minutes That Time beats upon you in
perhaps the most relentless moments of
the evening. An old man, left with
nothing but his timeless head, flogs
himself with memories of his meanless
past. His own voice shouts at him from
'either side and above, accusing,
recounting. His head never speaks, and
opens its eyes to nothing but silence.
Beckett designed this to be
incomprehensible, but it is too much so.
The third short play, Theater I, gives
the first glimpses of Beckett's Steven Gilliam, scenicidesigner; Timothy Hunter,
characters. A is blind and B is crippled, Iighting designer; Peter MacIver, costune designer
and the two battle and manipulate each
other around the stage in a fierce mr f h e ai s
manner. Eventually, they come to of one or more of the other attributes is
arrive - absolutely nowhere. The play absent, a production blessed with
does not even finish; it merely ends. energy can come off as effective and
BECKETT COMPOSES inimitable moving, and most often, enjoyable.
despair. Hope exists within the scope of Which leads me to wonder why the
time; waiting, formless, never to be Musket crew, virtually devoid of the
fully grasped. Life has nothing to cling other variables, could not at east have
to but itself. Still, this is where Beckett found some way of infusing their
is most effective. The audience must unhappy effort with that one vital
struggle, like the very characters, to' component. But woe, Don Quixote and
see clearly through the play. This is, of company, in the current production,
course,.impossible, and from it comes are even without spirit.
the inevitable point: when confusion Man of La Mancha, of course, is the
clouds everything, all that is left is to musical version of Cervante's classic,
question. Don Quixote, Intellectuals often find the
After a brief intermission, the RC very idea of such a rendition
Players 'went on with their major distasteful, but the script parries these
presentation, Endgame. Like Beckett's charges, I think, by adding an unusual
most celebrated piece, Waiting for element. In the play, Cervantes himslef
Godot, this is a presentation of is a character, here incarcerated by the
characters implanted in a situation Spanish Inquisition and presenting the
they can neither comprehend nor leave. story of his deluded knight to his fellow
'In the play there are two pairs of prisoners. The prisoners, audience to
charactersg. Hamm, a dying blind the play-within-a-play, also serve to fill
cripple, sits regularly center-stage in out its cast.
his chair lamenting to himself, barking BUT MUSKET seems to have missed
his the point. There's no pleasure in
forever at Clov, his Boy-servant. Clov,
in counterpart to Hamm, cannot sit. He watching at all if we are jabbed with
stands in his cubicle kitchen offstage, constant reminders that it is a
staring at the walls. Hamm's parents, dramatization we see before us. Yet not
Nagg and Nell,also reside in this house a one of these actors genuinely beleves
(the "shelter"), side by side in their a word he/she is saying. It follows,
identical ashbins. They dare legless, then, that neither do we.
nearly blind and deaf, and their David Marshall, as Cervantes'
communications fade. They po longer Quixote, actually seems to be the
have even each other. broken hero he purports to be in his
The world of End game is totally but final scene (on his death bed)'.
expectantly bleak. Cloydetcribes inas Unfortunately, there is little else than
xcorpsed." The characters are forced can be said in his favor. Possessed of a
.upon themselves since r r .red sonorious beautiful speaking voice,
house is certain death. To exist they Marshall shatters 'le fine impression
must create an endless game of words his vocal abilities have made when he
to fill their painful time. first chances to open his mouth to sing.
THE GAME, HOWEVER, is coming It is pitiable, creaky, and all too often.
to an end. Interactions are becoming so off-key sound which emerges.
redundant, so useless that they no Marshall's acting has an overblown,
longer have any worth. Hamm yearns stodgy quality that makes one think he
for "the old questions, the old must be so awed by his material that he
answers," but even these he cannot cannot internalize it. But this is not
have. There is nothing left to be had; all Shakespeare. Why all the fanfare?
is dimished or diluted. JANE KINSEY, one of Musket's
Production of this play must be more talented groupoes, has seen
approached intensely. The RC Players better days. Her Aldonza is cranky, not
adhere conscientiously to Beckett, and fiery, and her characterization reminds
in this there is both merit and fault. one more of a junior high school brat
Everything about the play is ludicrous. than a bitter strumpet. Still, her voice is
Despair tears at the audience, until you quite good and she has a couple of good
can only laugh. The hopelessness is scenes as well. Would that these were
portrayed in every motion, every the rule, rather than the exception.
sentence. Director Hilary Cohen's Director/producer James Stern
interpretation does not provide enough worked with a national touring
humor. We are not given enough chance production of La Mancha during the
to laugh, enough release. summer, but seems to have neglected a
Samual Beckett is a modern literary few minor details. Like that fact that
phenomenon. He shows a world of Sancho, the Don's squire, is ordinarily a
absolute bleakness, and forces us to comical character. Not here. todd
question and respond. . Wurster isn't only unfuny, he's boring;,
Endgame and the other plays provide a nebbish.
great intellectual and emotional In scene after scene, Wurster takes a
stiimuli. They affect us is ways we do well-written comic lines and makes
not immediately see. Beckett expresses them as amusing as would an
utter confusion to help you see it more ecomonies professor. Imagine: a
clearly. This is frustrating, disturbing, windmill scene berefit of either pathos
and challenging, but somehow it almost or humor. I wouldn't have thought it
seems necessary. possible.
Quijano's bedroom in the final scene,
and then stand idly and watch her walk
by as she whirls around and comes
right back in? This is clumsy blocking if
ever blocking was clumsy.
Stern certainly is culpable for the
greater part of La Mancha's two
overriding shortcomings: lack of
believability in his characters and the
production's dearth of vigor. And as
trimming, there is the worst fight scene
I've seen on an Ann Arbor stage. It's as
if Stern mapped the thing out on paper
and never looked at it again. The
message is clear: leave directing to
It is far too much to hope that a single
good performer could rescue the whole
unwieldy mess; but Peter Manis at
least manages to make himself look
good. As the Padre, Manis sarcastically
agrees with Quijano's clan that their
intentions are altruistic. "I'm Only
Thinking of Him," musically fine in its
own right, comes off as the show's best
number owing to Manis' playfulness
and his steady, if unpolished voice. Toni
Wilen and Mary Spengler hold up their
end as well.
DESIGN IS neither Man of La
Mancha's strongest nor weakest point.'
The lighting, while not grevious, rarely
directed focus to the proper points, and
at times (the fore-mentioned fight
scene) misdirected it. The worst of the
costumes is Wilen's, which looks like
what American Airlines stewardesses
will be wearing next year.
Michael Goz's terrific voice made for
a pleasant break from the tedium, but
his characterization was a trifle
unusual. One wonders what Tevye was
doing in the Spain of centuries past.
Debbie DiLillo (Maria) and Jim
Patterson share the honors for uttering
the production's least convincing lines.
And Peter Kenter, choreographer-
performer, should delete the hyphen,
and what follows, from his title.
Man of La Mancha goes beyond being
poor theater. It is disrespectful.
Disrespectful, that is, to the pool ol
talent at Michigan, in suggesting that
such a beast is the best that can be
produced given what the student body
has to offer. Yet Musket implicitly
makes such a claim by very virtue of its
longevity and its record of reasonable
financial status. More of this sort ol
thing will imperil both attributes
Please, God. No more.
FINAL PERFORMANCE $ p.m.
in the Michigan League 764.0450
The Ann Arbor Fil Cooperative presents t MLB 3
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FAR FROM THE MADDENING CROWD
ANGELL HALL AUD A
Design logo for Cinema I (to be used on our film schedules & posters) & WIN
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Nov. 3-5, Power Center
P.T.P. Box Office Hours at Power Center
Saturday: 1-5 PM and 6-8 PM
Sunday: 12-5 PM and 6-8 PM 763-33
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in a special