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January 23, 1979 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 1979-01-23

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The Michigan Daily-Tuesday, January 23, 1979-Page 7
Fair Child' well bred

r

'1

SPRING BREAK
March 3-10. 1979

By JOSHUA PECK
Taken on its own terms, This Fair
Child of Mine makes for a fine evening
of . .. stagework. The word "theater"
doesn't quite fit here, because plays are
works, ordinarily, that unfold plots and
characters in a deliberate, gradual
fashion. Fair Child takes selected
highlights of Shakespeare's plays,
specifically ones dealing with parents
and their children, and strings them
together into one entertainment.
But given the restrictions placed on it
by its very format, the show doth please
quite greatly, and playgoers
This Fair Child of Mine_
7rtiehlood Thacuer
January 19, 20
Actors:
Nicholas Pennell
Marti Maraden
Tom Wood
In association with the Stratford Shakespearian
Festival Foundation Production staged by
Nicholas Pennell.
Ike'hmr- L.aphne Dare.
I Lihin Director, Alec Cooper.
umpant L'c ,)e manaerI . Martin Bragg.
unknowledgeable about the Bard's
masterworks will find it a satisfactory
introduction to many of his most in-
triguing personages, plots, and patter.
Nicholas Pennell, Marti Maraden,
and Tom Wood, all members of
Canada's prestigious Stratford Festival
company, comprise the cast. While
none of the three have any excep-
tionally bad scenes, on the whole, their
various characters tend toward
uniformity owing to the nearly 20 roles
each must play. The reason lies chiefly
in the script, as even an actor of, for in-
stance, Pennell's stature could not be
reasonably expected to play a scene as
one character, leave stage for a scant
half-minute, and re-emerge then in an
entirely different emotional guise. A
more ordinary setting would lend the
actor time to do most of his pre-curtain
character work offstage and at his
leisure, not in a hurried thirty seconds
between scenes. What results, in the
majority of the show's 22 dramatic
sequences (plus two sonnets), is a set of
characters that are far less distinct
from each other than any of the cast is
actually capable of assuming. Of cour-
se, "mediocre" for actors of this high a
calibre is appreciably better than the
standard university fare.
PENNELL, WHO staged the show as
well as taking the lion's share of the
good male roles, knows his strengths
well. Not surprisingly, his best scenes

Lou Killen

For seafarers only

"
"

A whale of a show

By STEVE HOOK
Lou Killen, a bearded English
balladeer and storyteller, appeared
at the Ark this past weekend, and for
those thirsting for detailed descrip-
tions of Scandinavian royalty,
eighty-ton sailing ships, and the
traditional customs of Great Britain,
it was an enchanting opportunity to
satisfy the curiosity. For those not
necessarily curious about such
things, his performances were a
tiring challenge to keep up with.
The audience seemed to attest to
this as the Saturday night perfor-
mance drew on. Scanning the crowd,
a concrete split seemed evident bet-
ween those enraptured by the
lengthy, involved stories serving as
background for the ballads, and
those long, long gone in slumber.
LOU KILLEN insists on laying out
the complex backgrounds of the
traditional folk ballads which he
performs. From fully describing the
rigging of a schooner to giving ex-
tended overviews of political hierar-
chies, he seemed determined that
his ballads would be thoroughly un-
derstood.
The descriptions vastly outlasted
the songs they were meant to
describe. To many in the audience
these descriptions were all too in-
volved, while the actual music came
too rarely. As Killen lumbered into
his third set, the onlookers
illustrated this by dozing obviously,
or disappearing altogether. To
Killen, though, all the background is
a necessary prerequisite to a proper
exhibition of traditional folk music.

It is certainly not simple stuff, and to
present the music without the
background makes for an incm-
plete performance.
THE EMPHASIS Killen places on
the lyrics of his music is made clear
by his simple singing technique. He
stands and delivers song after song,
accompanied only by his concetina,
an accordian-like instrument; and
the tapping of his foot. '
This is all he needs to present his
music, because it is the heritage
behind the songs that is important.
"I've got a strong feeling for my
heritage," the 45-year-old balladeer
explained. "If I can only get people
to realize their own heritage ..."
ACCORDING to Killen, people in
the United States don't seem to
"realize" their heritage, although he
feels that it is there. "It's not all
goody goody," he stated, "but it's
definitely there."
Having written none of the
material he performs, Killen has a
repertoire of over 300 songs, all of
which are "either traditional or
modern written in a traditional
vein." Much of his program has
been written by his close friend Cyril
Tawney, an English folksong writer
who Killen claims is the best in
England.
FOR ALL the shortcomings with
his showmanship, Lou Killen often
succeeded in delighting the audien-
ce, inviting them to join in on many
rousing choruses. These choruses,
which perked up the snoozers and
provided release for the alert, were
the high points for the audiences,
with colorful lyrics like:
Beat the drums over
And play the fife merrily.
Sound the dead marches
And carry him along.
Take him to the graveyard,
Fire four volleys over him.
He was a young sailor
Cut down in his prime.
Although Killen's performance
lacked the dynamic appeal one
might expect, his purpose was to ex-
pand the horizons of his audience, to
make them more aware of the
beauty of traditional English folk
music, and of the heritage it in-
volves. In this he did not fail.

interpretation would only have bred
confusion.
. Marti Maraden manages the Bard's
many women handily, though she
breaks away from the prevalent
uniformity somewhat less often than
her male counterpart. Her Miranda,
last seen the same season as Pennell's
Hamlet on the Stratford stage, shines
with all the delicate innocence and
wonder imaginable. "O, what a brave
new world this is, that has such people
in it" is among the lines in Fair Child
most delightfully delivered. Lovely,
too, is her distraught Juliet, anguished
over her inability to defeat her clan's
adversity to her love affair.
ONLY IN their choice of vehicle can
the players be held accountable for the
production's worst failing; the shor-
tcuts and inaccuracies it must oc-
casionally employ to make all the
material manageable by its small cast.
When, in one scene, Queen Gertrude
finds herself talking with two different
Hamlets, so that Pennell can slip off to
ready himself for his next segment, one
wishes the characters would simply sit
still, at least for a little while.
Worse still is another Hamlet excer-
pt, when Polonius and Gertrude walk on
arm-in-arm and proceed to deliver
speeches of advice to one young man
(Wood), sitting mute on the stage. If
members of the audience had a hard
time recognizing the sequence, perhaps
it is because it never occurs. In the
original, Polonius presents his advice to
Laertes, Gertrude hers to Hamlet.
Polonius' little rampage is pompous
and redundant, Gertrude's is thoughtful
and caring. To present the speeches
consecutively, as if they are two sides
of the same coin, is to mar the text un-
forgiveably, and if This Fair Child of
Mine had meant to pay tribute to the
Bard's way with words and characters,
it ought to have refrained from twisting
them.
vho starred in many of the different
Program's production of "This Fair
nd at the Trueblood Theater.
TOM WOOD is given lowest billing on
the program, but puts himself ar-
tistically in the same general neigh-
borhood as his compatriots. His best
moment, and the show's best within the
comic realm, is as the clownish
adolescent from The Two Gentlemen of
Verona, when he petulantly derides his
"dog," a wooden pull-toy, for failing to
wax emotional over his impending

departure.v
As Richard III, though, while Wood is
not without character, he fails to in-
dicate amply just how malevolent the
last Plantaganet really is. His flippant
conversation with his mother should be
a little bit less callous, and perhaps a

f

Sergei Eisenstein's 1944
IVAN THE TERRIBLE (part 1)
The first part of a projected trilogy that was never finished but was never-
theless Eisenstein's magnum opus. He conceived of Ivan as Grand Opera in
the Wagnerian tradition: an epic of Russia's medieval past-A heroically
athletic aestheticism. Score by Sergei Prokofiev. (Part II willsbe shown Mon-
day, Feb. 26).
Wed: James Cain double feature: DOUBLE INDEMNITY (8t 7) &
MILDRED PIERCE (at 9:05)
Thurs: WOMAN IN THE DUNES

touch more calculating.
The afore-mentioned Pericles excer-
pt stands as the play's finale, a wise
decision on the part of Pennell. The
scene is one of the finest examples in
literature of the classic Greek notion of
nostos, or reconciliation, and -is ap-
propriately treated by this rendition.
Pericles is a battered old man unable,
or perhaps just unwilling, to speak. His
silence is born of years of lonely
desolation. He is visited by a young girl
whom, we discover, is his daughter,
believed dead. As the truth creepingly
dawns on the man (Pennell), we are
treated to the sight of his ennui ever so
slowly becoming unbridled joy. Pen-
nell's vocal control is what makes this
portrayal a great one, as when, glan-
cing at the girl, he produces a sort of
verbal double-take, heartwarmingly
belying his ostensible disbelief.
It is this sort of scene, and yes, there
are a few, that lifts This Fair Child of
Mine above its basic difficulties often
enough to make it worthwhile and
rewarding.

REGENCYTRAVEL
The friendly Tour Store on the Corner
66f5-6i122
601 E. WILLIAM
(CORNER MAYNARO) Ib
ANN ARDOR, MICN.
,,., 48104
, F'T

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Prices based on double occupancy

TONIGHT AT
7:..S :.

OLD ARCH AUD

'The Ann Arbor Film Coopertive presents at Aud A
Tuesday, January 23
DERSU UZALA

7-

(Arika Kurosawa, 1977)

7 & 9:30--Aud A

Japan's master director (THE SEVEN SAMUARI, THRONE OF BLOOD) has
been stunning the world's film festivals with his latest work. Dersu Uzala
is an old Siberian (not unlike Daniel Boone to Americans) who helps a
group of outsiders survive the Siberian wild.
Tomorrow: SUMMER IN THE CITY and WOODSTOCK

mum

Vegas fiesta Night

at c
Wednesday Evening,!Januasy24th t
1st PRIZE - 3 Days & 2 Nights lodging for 2 in las-
Vegas. Casino Chips, Meals, Beverages-Plus Many Extras
2nd PRIZE - Las Vegas Weekend for 2 (same as above)
3rd PRIZE - Dinner for 2 at Don Cisco's
Alcoholic Beverages not included
Contest Entry Fee $6.00 per Couple
No Cover Charge at the Door
Spectators Welcome
Proper Disco Attire Required
611 Church St., near S. University

Nicholas Penell and Marti Maraden, w
sequences in the Professional Theater1
Child of Mine," which played last weeke
are those he has played in full produc-
tions here and at Stratford in recent
years. They are from the title roles of
Pericles and Hamlet in which he enacts
the aging Tyrian rediscovering his
daughter, and the young Dane warning
his mother away from her murderous_
groom, respectively:
Curiously, in the latter of these
scenes, Pennell steers clear of the more
heavily Freudian interpretation given
the role at Stratford two seasons back,
in which, if memory serves, he kissed
his mother adieu with a savory, longing
kiss. Perhaps Pennell felt that, sheared
of the preceding stirring of Hamlet's
Oedipal leanings, the psychoanalytic;

l Ann Arbor, Michigan

995-59551

WEDNESDAY IS MONDAY IS ADuLTS FRi., SAT.,SUN.
"BARGAIN DAY" "GUEST NIGNT" EVE. HOLIDAYS $3.50
$1.50 until 5:30 TWO ADULTS ADMITTED " ALL MTINEE .5.
FOR PRICE OF ONE CHILDTO14 51.50

1

WAYSIDE THEATRE WALT DISNEY'S
3020 Washtenaw " PINOCCHIO"
Phone 434-1782

ARtTS STAFF S
ARTS EDITORS
ERIC ZORN R.J. SMITH
THEATER EDITOR: JOSHUA PECK
STAFF WRITERS: Bill Barbour, Jim Eckert, Pat Fabrizio, Pat Gray,
Diane Haithman, Katie Herzfeld, Steve Hook, Mark Johansson, Rich
Loranger, Peter Manis, Dobilas Matulionis, Anna Nissen, Roger Pensman,
Christopher Potter, Lily Prigioniero, Alan Rubenfeld, Will Rubiono, Anne
Sharp, Renee Shilkusky, Mike Taylor, Keith Tosolt, Karolyn Wallace, Carol
Wierzbicki, Dan Weiss, Tim Yagle, Bruce Young

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