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September 18, 1979 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-09-18

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

SECOND CITYA T POWER CENTER:
Yeah, it beats

The Michigan Daily-Tuesday, September 18, 1979-Page 5

TV

hilt

By ERIC ZORN
One of the more ridiculous things
about television is the way all programs
are pre-digested for the general con-
sumption and almost all offensive
material thus deleted. Comedy,
especially the saucy, irreverent brand
of many younger performers, loses a lot
of punch when it is toned down. Wonder
no longer, then, why some of the sket-
ches on Saturday Night Live are so
lame.
Remember, many of the performers
on Saturday Night are graduates of the
Second City improvisational comedy
troupe, where everybody laughs when a
man says "suck." John Belushi, Dan
Ackroyd, Gilda Radner, and Bill
Murray all came up with Second City,
and officials with the group are con-
fident that some of the performers who
appeared last Saturday evening at the
Power Center for The Best of Second
City will be on network television spon.
BASICALLY, there is an audience for
Second City-style humor because of the
limitations of television as a medium:
The six-member cast spins through two
hours of comedy and song that, for
various reasons, would probably not
appear on the home screen. Some of the
material is off-color, yes, but a lot of it
is too slow and subtle for the impatient
masses. Further, a good deal of the
comedy comes from an effective use of
the stage and the audience-performer
relationship that, try as they might with
studio claques, TV producers cannot
use.
All of which goes to prove that there
is still a spot in this culture of ours for
the theater, in case that was on your
mind. this conclusion is notable in the
case of Second City since the com-
parisons with television are
unavoidable, and their audience must
be satisfied that it was better to trudge
to the theater and shell out admission
than to have stayed home and watched
Mork.
The format is very televisionian, as
the show is a review of top sketches
from the 20-year history of Second City.
A weak attempt is made to minimize
this by directing the performance at a
specific audience by filling in local

names (B. J. Dickey, The Ark), but
only people who really want to find this
a pleasing affectation can possible do
so. To others, it smacks of those letters
we get from Reader's Digest reading,
"You, My Pensman, may already be a
winner."
THE PERFORMERS hardly need
such devices to warm up an audience,
as they are, for the most part, top-flight
actors and comedians. The four men in
the case are noticeably better, though,
than the two women, especially in the
two- improvisational sketches attem-
pted. The women, Sandra Bogan and
Sandra Davenport, never seemed to
develop stage presences beyond
the characters that they played, and
they never seemed at all in control of
the image they presented to the audien-
ce. The men, especially slightly-built
Lance Kinsey, had a power all their
own that transcended their roles and
carried them through the performance.
But was it funny? Yes, there were big
laughs. The Best of Second City in-
cludes some inspired bits such as "Why
Football Failed at the University of
Chicago" featuring John Kapelos as a
history of arithmetic major trying to
understand the rules of the game, and a
sketch set inside the fallopian tubes
with Lance )Kinsey as a plucky sperm
cell who meets the egg and decide#'I'm
sorry I came."
The second half of the performance is
markedly feeble compared to the first
half, occasionally descending to
leering, adolescent humor and slap-
stick such as "The Sexual Crisis
Clinic." True, Second City survives
because they can excite an audience
reared on the Velveeta cheese and
white bread of television entertain-
ment, but that doesn't mean that
anything unconventional-such as a
nymphomaniac lurching into a timid
man-is automatically funny.
THE CHICAGO-BASED traveling
theater goes on the road in a van,
carrying only -costumes, six perfor-
mers, a pianist, technician, and
assistant produced Joyce Sloane. On
stage they need only five chairs for
props, relying heavily on pantomime for
the effect of material objects. Many of

the acts from The Best of Second City
are outgrowths of improvisational
sketchesperformed at the request of
audiences back in Chicago where the
company maintains a resident troupe.
Producer Sloane says the reason
Second City cast members do so well on
a show like Saturday Night Live is that
the discipline of performing every night
and learning the art of improvisation
teaches them to control an audience
and keep a point of reference in order to
be funny.
Second City's improvisation was less
than overwhelming, the jokes only
being funny because they were spon-
taneous, and not because they were,
well, really funny.

Performers are found through
workshops that the company offers in
Chicago, and through an exhaustive
audition process that includes going
through the files of resumes that
hopefuls send to the producers.
Very good performers they find, too.
Other noted Second City alumni include
Rob Reiner, Valerie Harper, and Alan
Arkin. So, in some ways, Second City
far surpasses comedy on television,
but, the dollar being what it is, the
company also serves as the minor
leagues for the networks.
That, media-fans, is show biz.

LOW 46r

~

The Ann Arbor Film Cooperative presents at Aud A, AngellHall
Tuesday, September 18
IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES
(Nagisa Oshima, 1976) 7 &A9-AUD A
The sensation of the 1976 Cannes and New York Film Festivals was this
stunning meditation on sexual obsession, based on a real love affair between
a gangster and a prostitute in 1930's Japan. "A beautiful film . . . the most
thoughtful work of and on eroticism yet created."-L.A. Times. Rated X
Tomorrow night's screening is cancelled due to prior bookings

i

~~*m
Tw m tnkletoes -Photo by KAREN ZORN
ust a dancing fool is Rose Sinclair, shown here hoofing and stomping to the old
Mme sounds of The Bosom Buddies all-woman string band at the First Ann Ar-
or Folk Festival on the lawn of the Ark Sunday afternoon. Sinclair and the Wild
Iurkey String Band performed with a whole host of other musicians during the
twelve-hour fest sponsored by the Ann Arbor Council for Traditional Music and
lance. The gathering of area talent drew a crowd of approximately 300, and
;ponsors considered the event an overall success. Throughout the day,
musicians who weren't on stage danced, played informally, and traded tunes
k nd stgries. Said one participant, "Hey, this is just like a real festival."

. FREE 12 Z.COKES
With Purchase of Any
1 Item or More Pizza
' (WITH THIS AD)
OPEN SUN-THURS 11am-1am; FRI &8SAT 1 lam-2am
Now Delivering to the N. Campus Area
I BELL'S GREEK PIZZA j
995-0232
700 Packard at State Street
Te Un'ive'r'ty of Michign
School! of Music Department off Dance
Of fers Fall Courses in
Beginning-Intermediate Modern Beginning Ballet
Intermediate Modern Intermediate Ballet
Advanced Modern Children's Baliet (ages 8-12)
Young Dancers Contemporary Dance Workshop (ages 12-18)
September 24-November 17,1979
Faculty: Gay Delanghe Christopher Flynn
Willie Feuer Susan Matheke
763546 orDance Building
for information call 763-5460 or 3ne iin
write: Department of Dance The Universiy of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109

i

Laura Antonelli's

labors of lust

By CHRISTOPHER POTTER
Ann Arbor suddenly finds itself the
ngwegt ecipient of the ubiquitou§,
Laprp-Appgnelli craze - a belated, pre-
packaged Hollywood attempt to cash .in:
on European cult.passion. The object of,
all this delayed trans-Atlantic ob-
session is .a mid-thirtyish Italian ac-
tress of pretty face and spectacular
body lately who has become an inter-
national sex symbol primarily through
her willingness to uncover her charms"
for- the camera whenever so directed.
American distributors, eager to cash
in, on the success of their brethren
aeross the sea, have pragmatically
eschewed their traditional abhorrence
of foreign films, (even Bergman and
Fellini have trouble making it to these
shores nowadays) and purchased a
whole slew of Antonelli epics - most of
them genteely sweaty potboilers just a
shade on the soft side of porn.
,This weekend finds to Antonelli
showcases in town: Malicious (made in
1974) and Wifemistress (Circa 1977).
Though promoted as a slab of meat
raunch, Wifemistress energes as - of
all things - a feminist morality play,
while Malicious turns out to be one of
the most diabolically funny tales to
come down the pike in many a year.
Wifemistress describes the
frustrations of the long-suffering wife of
a. wealthy Italian businessman at the
turn of the century. Frigid,
psychosomatically paralyzed from the
waist down, she wastes sadly away in
bed while. her debonair but callous
spouse Federico (Marcello Mastroian-
ni) pursues both financial and ex-
tiamarital affairs unencumbered by
domestic obligations.
Yet fortuitous revenge lies just
around the corner. Federico finds him-
Aif implicated in a murder; though in-
libcent, he determines to lay low until
the real killer is caught. He fakes a
riding disappearance, then hides out in
abuilding across the street from his
6&vn house (he figures it would be the
last place anyone would look). This
vantage point turns into a kind of win-
dow on his own world, as, watching
through a crack in the shutters, he wat-
ches an unravelling metamorphosis.
i Assuming her husband dead, Antonia
-( layed by Antonelli) turns into a late
bloomer. She emerges forthrightly
'from her physical and psychic
catatonia aid begins a calculated un-
covering of Federico's financial and
libidinous adventures. While her
fugitive spouse looks on helplessly, she
o ANNOUNCING

not only takes over his business, but
undertakes a step-by-step visitation of
allhis old adulterous haunts. Soon she
.isiliteral y relivigg qs feittaess bstory,
commencing libertine affairs of her
oWn, of"iih-tlnhe selfsami~e rooni dohis
own former dalliances. For Federico,
it's like watching his whole life's
history run backwards, every secret
mercilessly uncovered.
Things eventually take an even more
baroque turn. Antonia soon realizes
Federico is not dead, is in fact watching
her every move. This suits her fine -
all the more a stage for her ongoing
revenge. She takes to long, defiant
stares up at Federico's hideout, silently
daring him to come down and face her.
Federico cannot; though long since
cleared of the murder, he remains in
his dark room, a shattered recluse
unable to face her faithlessness and his
own shame and guilt. For Antonia, vic-
tory is at last complete: "Now I belong
only to myself," she murmurs trium-
phantly, at peace with her once op-
pressive environment.
Wifemistress' ingenious structural
layout might have worked brilliantly if
played in a sly black comedy mode, but
director Marlo Vicario has instead op-
ted to present his droll tale as a kind of
sweaty morality play. The nimble
women's movement theme is
sublimated by the stagy, operatic
histrionics of the assembled cast, which
remains a humorless bunch of charac-
ters.
Vicario never catches the nuances
between light and heavy; the film's
climactic reunion between repentant
husband and forgiving, wife - a poten-
tially moving reconciliation - is
drowned amidst tear-stained cheeks,
quivering eyeballs and a musical score
so'swarthily thunderous that one expec-
ts an angelic choir to descend any
moment singing praise to the sanctity
of marriage.
Mastroianni does about as much as

can be expected with a part that's
restricted almost exclusively to staring1
remorsefully out f his shuttered.
thideaway. Wifemistress belongs to An-
tonelli lock, stock and barrel; she's not"
a great actress, ythef projection of in-'
telligent vulnerability carries the film
surprisingly well, as does her un-
deniable physical charisma. Soft-core
buffs' will likely be disappointed at
Wifemistress's lack of explicitness (as
well as angered by the film's
duplicitous promo campaign); though
certainly erotic in content, the picture's
few bedroom scenes are staged so
paralytically that you have to blink
twice to determine whether the im-
mobile participants are human beings
or store mannequins. Moreover, there
isn't an obliquely nude shot of the An-
tonelli physique the entire film, a fact
likely to shock Wifemistress's targeted
stud patronage as much as will its
astonishingly anti-macho theme.
The surprise of Wifemistress is that
it's quite tolerable entertainment., The
astonishment of Antonelli's other

current vehicle, Malicious, is that it's
fiendishly magnificent. More on the lat-
ter tomorrow.
ND OF PART ONE

i

_..

Join
the
Arts
Page,

1

ROBERT WEINE'S DOUBLE FEATURE 1919
THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI
A classic horror film and the first work of the German Expressionists. The
distotive angular sets intensify a "simple" story of a country fair and one of
the sideshows-a somnambulist. (at 7:00 only)
CHARLES LAUGHTON'S 1955
THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER
Robert Mitchum at his best as a fanatic murderous preacher hunting down
his step-children through the'countryside. Screenplay by James Agee and
iridescently magical photography by Stanley Cortez ("The Magnificent Amber-
sons"). With Shelly Winters and Lillian Gish as the Goose Woman. (at
8:00 only) Both Shows-$2.50 OLD ARCH.
CINEMA GUILD One Show-$1.50 AUD.

Fh " I
S5I1Iil t.7
Thtork
ered her Iid"
nae'by *I
live th~m i' " exI~. u
ENDS
THURSDAY! .,

THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
DEPARTMENT OF THEATRE & DRAMA
in association with
The Professional Theatre Program
1979-80 GUEST ARTIST SERIES
USHER APPLICATION
Name
Address
Telephone
1. You must choose your series in order of preference.
2. Return Usher Application to: Usher Guest Artist Series, c/o Profes-
sional Theatre Program. Michigan League Bldg. Ann Arbor. Michigan
48109.
3. You will be notified by mali. MUST INCLUDE A STAMPED, SELF-
ADDRESSED ENVELOPE.
Please Number Choice 1, 2, 3, etc.
SERIES A: (Wed. Eve.) Oct. 17, Nov. 28, Feb. 20, Apr. 16
SERIES B: (Thurs. Eve.) Oct. 18, Nov. 29, Feb. 21, Apr. 17
SERIES C: (Fri. Eve.) Oct. 19, Nov. 30, Feb. 22, Apr. 18
-- . ... . _ .r.. r._% &nn - 7 C.k f01 Anr 10

B ~ U' a.

I

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