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September 28, 1979 - Image 7

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-09-28

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The Michigan Daily-Friday, September 28, 1979-Page 7

Frank Capra's

1934

CIVIC THEATRE:

Disc4ple' (funda

By JOSHUA PECK
(Third season as Daily's theatre
critic, first local review, first
paragraph. Ready?)
Ann Arbor Civic Theatre's The
Devil's Disciple has a few things going
for it: William Cross, the leading
player, turns in another in an
astonishing series of forceful, exciting
performances. Charles Sutherland for
The Devil's Disciple
By George Bernard Shaw
Lvdia M'ndexohn,. Sept. 26-29
Carol Duffy . ................ Annie Dudgeon'
Charles Sutherland...........Anthony Anderson
Susan Dawson... ........... Judith Anderson
William Cross .............Richard Dudgeon
John Stevens ........................ Sergeant
Beverley Pooley...........General Burgoyne
Susan Morris, pradue r. Robert Seeman, seenir de'ign

the d
stagin
discon
that se
entran
giftedI
(My
Haven
Civic's
compa
very
mance
qualiti
all? I s,
One
could
segme
with v
openin
action
mome
therm

the most part, is an affable, believable proof1
minister. But Civic's treatment of this profic
early George Bernard Shaw work is capabi
fundamentally a failure. Director Max tuallyr
Wlsey, a newcomer to the area, has ALL'
permitted his cast a lazy, sleepy style momen
reminiscent of those old "down East" theyv
jokes: "How ya been, Bert?" Thirty packag
second pause. "Fine." Twenty second TheyA
pause. "Why do you ask?" lifeless
Examples of Disciple's haphazardly cent o
managed design and incidental music Carol
are bountiful, but the most glaring is hackne
the frame structure that serves as a cranky
house in the first two acts. It has later,v
genuine walls and windows, but an out of I
imaginary door - an actress "closes" tras in
it by walking upstage to it, looking at it, review
and backing off. The music is taking
enigmatically of the current century, locatio
though the play was written during the When
last and takes place in the 1700's. his app
OVERALL, a sloppy ambience rules belt ou
tV

ay, the culprits being stillborn
g, meandering motivation, and a
certing flock of fits and starts
eem roughly to coincide with the
ices and exits of the handful of
performers.
Lord, this sounds familiar.
't I observed these things about
s work before? Isn't the local
ny frequently guilty of just these
sins? Aren't the strong perfor-
es of a few too often the only
es that give the shows any lifc at
ound like a broken record).
would think that if a director
only make one five-minute
nt of a show move brightly and
ivid pacing, he would select the
g scene. Even if the subsequent
(or lack of it) begins to fall flat,
ntum might sneak it by, and fur-
ore, the audience will have seen
that the cast has a level of
iency somewhere within its
ilities to which it-might even-
return.
THAT can be said of the opening
.nts of the current offering is that
violate none of the truth-in-
ging requirements of federal law.
are every bit as sorrowfully
s and uninteresting as eighty per
f what is to follow, what with
Duffy creeping through a
eyed variation on the theme of a
y grandmother. Ten minutes
when not one actor had broken
the prevailing style - that of ex-
a George Romero movie - this
ver began toying with the idea of
advantage of his seat's aisle-side
n.
gin, William Cross finally makes
pearance, he might reasonably
it the little ditty Mighty Mouse

used to spout as he zipped toward the
ubiquitous ravenous cat: "Here I come
to save the day!" And for the time
being, things really do look up. As the
putatively nasty Richard Dudgeon,
Cross is a cocky, delightfully flippant
menace. Cross well understands the
rules of Shaw's early style, which, as
the director observes in the 'program
notes, is largely melodramatic. One
ought never be surprised by anything
Cross does, and indeed, one never is.
Despite his sordid reputation among his
kinfolks and neighbors, Dick Dudgeon
clearly stands above his fellows by vir-
tue of the nobility of his carriage, his
language and his swagger. We an-
ticipate his martyrish decision to
sacrifice himself and save his
ideological brother. That is as it should
be. The pleasure of the form is in seeing
one's expectations of a character's
behavior realized.
CHARLES SUTHERLAND, though
his is among the handful of generally
good performances, exhibits a lack of
understanding of the element that
makes his colleague's portrayal click.
Early on, he is a kindly; devout, and
devoted minister to his congregation.
Upon hearing that he is being sought by
the British militia, he escapes in what
looks to be a blind panic. The decision to
handle the plot twist this way was
seemingly made to add an element of
surprise to Sutherland's reappearance
just before the final curtain, during

9flops
which he delivers a reprieve for
Dudgeon. The flip-flopping from
courageous to cowardly and back again
disrupts the relaxed Shavian genre.
What kept me from bolting for the
exits in the first act was the presence in
the program of Beverley Pooley's
name, which Civic watchers have long
found to portend crisp thespianship. I
was not disappointed. Had General
Burgoyne been alive to witness
Pooley's wry and gentlemanly '
imitation of his manner, he would have
been flattered. Would that Pooley had
been complemented by fellow redcoats
John Stevens and Dwight Smith. In-
stead, the former blusters through his
role, while the latter snivels through
his. Neither is even remotely amusing.
Susan Dawson's twisting of Shaw's
lines ((Doncha" and "Thatcha," she in-
tones) are representative of the play's
lack of respect for the Englishman as a
whole. There really isn't a thing Pooley,
Cross can do about it.
(There, I've said it again.)

CINEMA GUILD

TONIGHT AT
7:00 & 9:05

OLD ARCH. AUD.
$1.50

The Ann Arbor Film Coo iv Presents at MLB: $1.50
FRIDA SEPTEMBER 28
THE ROAD TO MOROCCO
(David Butler, 1942) 7 only-MLB 4
HOPE and CROSBY get involved with sheiks and, who else, DOROTHY
LAMOUR. A fast and funny comedy. With Anthony Quinn and the talking
camels. THE ROAD TO UTOPIA
(Melvin Frank 1946) 8:40 only-MLB 4
One of Hope and Crosby's funniest films. This time the boys are in search of
gold in the Yukon. You may hate Bob Hope's politics, but he's funny as hell
in this movie. With DOROTHY LAMOUR, ROBERT BENCHLEY, and great ad-
libbing. REEFER MADNESS
(Leo Gasnier, 1936) 10:20 only-MLB 4
Originally titled "Tell Your Children," this anti-marijuana propaganda film
seen today is a hilarious camp comedy. The weed is described as "the new
drug menace which is destroying the Youth of America!" With: THE MYSTERY
OF THE LEAPING FISH (John Emerson, 1916). ThiĀ§ classic "Cocaine Comedy"
is a parody of Sherlock Holmes: Scenario by Tod Browning, supervised by
D.W. Griffith.
Tomorrow: DR. STRANGELOVE, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying
and Love the Bomb and A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO
THE FORUM at MLB.
NOTE: Free preview screening of 'TIL MARRIAGE DO US
PART with Laura Antonelli. FREE. Aud. A; Wed., Oct, 3rd, 4:00.

IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT
Director Capra had his hands full with a drunken CLARK GABLE and a shoe-
string budget but he pulled off one of the great coups of Hollywood with
this sophisticated comedy about a runaway heiress and an out-of work
reporter. The film swept all the major Oscars and clobbered the undershirt
business (since Gable's "strip tease" revealed he didn't wear one). With
CLA rDETTE COLBERT. (s
Short: FUN ON MARS. (Sally Cruikshank) An American tourist visits.

I

Doi TIli Who wouli R Ki:eng
TONIGHT! HALE AUDITORIUM 7 & 9:30 p.m.

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THROW DOWN / THE CLOSER I GET TO YOU

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