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February 17, 1979 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-02-17

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The Michigan Doily-Saturday, February 17, 1979-Pog6. 5


Generally respectable

As contemplated writing this review,
it ocurred to me to write two separate
piec under different headlines-one
for he first act, and another for the
secld. I cannot remember ever seeing
a pbduciton, or for that matter, a per-
son with a more advanced case of
S m'e first, and regrettably longer act,
The Inspector General
Nikolai Gogol
Power Center
February 14-18
Anton Atonovich Skvoznik-Dmukhanovsky,
.the Maor.................. Philip LeStrange
Ivan Aleandrich Khlyestaskov.. Thomas Bloom
Anna Andreyena .............. Michele Roberge
Maria Antono'na.................... Jessie Hobart
James Martir, Director; David Segal, Lighting De-
signer; March Froehlic, Costumes; Dick Block,
while nit without a sprinkling of
amusini moments, is a stultifying,
wanderng bore. Scarcely anything
works: the pacing -is snail-like,
featuring pregnant pauses sans fetus.
Guest artist Philip LeStrange is com-
petent.but nothing more. The act's far-
cical rats are so bereft of any honesity
humaz motivation as to mask much of
their inderlying comic impact.
In ;he second act, the director
creatd brilliance and mirth. The stage
is avash with wit, ranging from
deligitful slapstick at the hands of Pat
Garer and Thomas Stack, to the sub-
tler,more cerebral work of LeStrange
and to a lesser degree, Thomas Bloom,
in tie role of the bogus inspector.
is scarcely relevant, but concerns a
smillish town in Russia during the
183)s, whose mayor receives a missive
warning him that a government official
wil soon arrive to investigate the town.
Convinced by two dodderingly idiotic
laidowners, Peter Ivanovich Dobchin-
sky and Peter Ivancvich Bobschinsky
by name, that a visitor staying at the
local inn is the inspector general in the
guise of a civilia, the town's smat-
tering of corrupt bureaucrats readies
itself to receive their distinguished
Khlyestakov, tie "inspector,'" is only
too happy to accept the offerings of the
village elders, Bough it seems to take
him rather an ilordinately long time to
figure out why.his is happening to him.
When he doeshe milks the situation for
all it is worth.
THE COVEDY scores on many
levels. In on respect it is a work 'of
social criticin, exposingiin microcosm
the length aid breadth of the pervasive
corruption tfat seems to have reigned
in 19th Centiry Czarist Russia.
Gogol rejected the social critics' self-
serving interpretation of his work, but
that, most likely, was only a bid for
survival. le did have other targets in
mind, thogh: There is the concept of
poshlost banality or self-satisfied
mediocri,, that is the focus of much of
the Russan satire of the last century.
The misrably mediocrity of the low-
ranking :ivil servant is deftly 'assailed
here, pehaps as well as anywhere.
David Manis leads the pack of
bureaucrats that scampers to please
Khlyestakov. There is less of the comic

spark that shone in some of Manis'
earlier performances, but he still
manages to amuse, especially as he
makes his pecuniary approach to the
TOM STACK plays the stuttering im-
becile Plopov, a mouse of a man, with
slickness, avoiding the pitfall of shud-
dering to the point where we can no
longer laugh in sympathy with his fear.
The benefits of subtlety unfortunately
escaped Jim Pawlak, whose imper-
sonation of a stupid, blustering Ger-
man, while mostly mute, is overstated.
Daniel Ziegler, as always, speaks
with an unpleasant, strained quality
that kills any pleasure his lines might
afford us. His acting style, too, is over-
blown, and many of the ponderous
pauses that dampen the first act are
For farcical sensibility, there is no
actor on stage to top Pat (Dobchinsky)
Garner. Early in the first scene, Bob-
chinsky, played by Joe Urla, ploddingly
relates the reasoning which leads him
to certainty that Khlyestakov is the
czar's agent. Curiously, the humor here
stems from Garner's antics, as he
strains to have his additions to the
narrative heard. One hopes that we'll
soon see more of this talent in a larger
comic role.
THOMAS BLOOM'S portrayal of the
mock official succeeds in a modest
way, yet is less than it could and should
be. There ought to be more pleasure in
watching the asinine Ivan come into
such good fortune than Bloom makes
possible with his slightly lackadaisical
manner. And yet, Bloom improves with
the second curtain, as does everything
about the show. His vocal whine, which
serves only to annoy us elsewhere,
works to his advantage as he wheedles
money and favors from the fools who
imgine themselves to be his subor-
dinates. Bloom's physical agility is his
winning tool in the wooing scene, as he
darts lasciviously back and forth bet-
ween the mayor's daughter and wife.
These two good spots vindicate Bloom,
and the audience Wednesday night
greeted him with the loudest applause
of all at the evening's end.
Director James Martin blended
many individualistic touches into the
.show, and almost all work to the
production's advantage. In the scene
where each official approaches
Kylyestakov in turn (with bribe in
hand), Martin has taken care to see
that every slammed door and rapidly
traversed staircase is motivated, and
not left to mere comedic necessity. The
staging of the show as a whole is
beautifully done, even in the rne,
wherein some 25 cast members j'rb the
THE SURREALISTIC turn that this
Inspector takes at its end comes as a
shock, but ends up working in its favor.
The mayor speaks of imagining pigs all
around him, and the cast erupts into an
cacophony of swinish snorting. A
soldier enters .to herald the actual in-
spector's arrival, and the sound system
erupts into Twentieth Century song.
These touches, and the sudden
acknowledgement of the audience in
the play's last minutes, bring the
message tellingly home. "What are you
laughing at?" yells LeStrange. "You're
laughing at yourselves."
Martin's only obvious error was in

sending Martin Friedman (as the
mayor's servant) high above the stage
to wave his hands senselessly over the
workings of a clock, as if massaging
them. Why?
ANOTHER, LESS serious failing is
the inattention to the peculiarities of the
Russian language. The name "Anton"
is given its French pronunciation, the
paltronymic suffix "ovich" is over-
stressed (Russian sound -it as "itch")
and Khlyestakov's name is made too
much of. It sounds funny to Russian
audiences, too, but not that funny.
Finally, one wonders why one actor of
the entire cast, and a minor one at that,
is called upon to produce a Russian ac-
Michele Roberge and Jessie Hoba t
as the mayor's daughter and wife,
create a little comic clamor of their
own, by viture of their politely vicious
battle for Khlyestakov's attentions.
Roberge, while funny at times, tries too
hard to amuse us, and thus fails to do
so. Hobart is better, hitting home most
notably with her petulant shrieks of
protest over being belittled by her
Hobart's first costume, a misshapen,
white dress embroidered in blue and
red, was the only gaffe in an otherwise
luscious design. If there is one thing we
can say for sure of young Maria, it is
that she ought to be strikingly attrac-
tive, so as to inspire the false inspector
to heights of lust. Hobart could hardly
appear so, cloaked in a sack. All the
more a shame, in view of the fact that
the actress herself is possessed of a
serenely appealing visage.
AS FOR THE Guest Artist, his work
flowed like one long crescendo; from
mediocre early on to incisively
dynamic at the play's finish. The
cadenza of the piece (am I pressing the
metaphor?) was his virulent assault
directly at the audience during the last
As goes LeStrange, so goes the In-
spector General. The cumulative effect
of the evening, then, relies on the extent
to which the audiehce's memory of the
adagio first set lingers on through the
sterling second. This critic, blessed
with poor attention, left with a smile.

Watson, today you
positively scntillate
Christopher Watson will have no place to dance in a few months. Jacob-
son's is terminating the lease on Dance Space (his studio for the past ten
months), and the 29-year-old director of Ann Arbor's Dance Theater II who
also teaches dance classes and works in a bookstore will have to relocate.
His doesn't seem much like a settled existence, but Watson finally feels
content. His struggles all revolve around the dancer's lifestyle into which he
has settled after years of avoidance.
The first time Watson danced was in a high school production of Camelot.
Besides this .show dancing, Watson had little exposureto dance before
ONCE, HOWEVER, his high school Spanish teacher told the class about
An Evening With the Royal Ballet. "This was when Rudolph Numyev and
Margot Fontaine were at the height of their popularity," Watson explained,
"and dance was suddenly known to a lot of people because these two could be
readily identified.
"My teacher said it was okay for men to dance. It was very controversial
then, and it still is. So I went to see this film." And here his journey to
becoming a dancer began.
Christopher Watson has a large face, gentle eyes, and long, expressive,
strong hands. In the studio above the Roots shoe store on State street, we
talked in a small living room. Photographs of children dancing cover one
wall, with posters about dance concerts and classes on another.
OCCASIONALLY Watson would extend a long leg with an easy, graceful
stretch as he talked freely about his life and ideas. "As a youngster, I
couldn't consider dance even as a hobby. It was baseball or nothing."
Following high school, Watson attended Coe College in Iowa, a school with
less than a thousand students. During his junior.year, he studied in London
and met three Australian dancers. "They were the first flesh and blood dan-
cers I'd ever met. I probably did have stereotypes about dancers before I
met thembut these were intelligent, interesting people, and their dancing

THE A Play by

TH E A Play by U


Philip LeStrange
as the Mayor
Wed.-Sat.; Feb 14-17,8 PM
Sun., Feb 18, 2 PM



- I'


'Tickets at the PTP Box Office
in the Michigan League
313/764.0450 & through
all Hudsons Stores.
The University of Michigan
Professional Theatre, Program
Guest Artist Series 1979
Fbwer Center."Ann Arbor
Presented as part of an
all campus Russian Arts


intrigued me. Because I could relate
to them as people, dance became
real to me as a way of expression."
Watson took his first dance class
in London, and although he didn't
accept it at the time because he was
already 20, an age he thought too old
to begin a dance career, he was
"very, very interested."
HE RECEIVED a bachelor's
degree in sociology, and, realizing
that he didn't want to pursue this
subject any longer, he tried theater
the summer following his
graduation. After a year with
theater work and odd jobs, he
thought he wanted to write about the
arts and entered the Medill School of
Journalism. Halfway through this
program, Watson knewhe wanted to
be on the inside of dance operations.
He works as a community
relations director for a Houston dan-
ce company, but decided after one
year to be a dancer. He returned to
Chicago, got a similar position with
the Chicago Ballet, and began
studying with them and the Chicago
See PANCE, Page 8

$ .

Andy Warhol's


Cinema 11 proudly presents a rare opportunity to view one of the few genuine
Warhol films still intact-with an even more rare appearance by one of its
stars; and a regular in the early Worhold stable, Ondine. CHELSEA GILRS is'
almost 3'/z hours long, and is projected on twin screens; half-hour sections
depict "stories" taking place in NYC's famous Chelsea Hotel. (The original
program lists room numbers for each section, but all references to rooms
were deleted when the management of the Chelsea Hotel threatened a low-
suit after the first screening.) As the film moves forward in viewing time,
connections between segments are formed; a psychological linearity takes
place; reality and play-acting coalesce, CHELSEA GIRLS makes the later Paul
Morrisey-Warhol efforts tame in comparison: if you've seen FLESH, TRASH,
et al, you really haven't seen Warhol l Featuring Warhol's favorite stars:
Nico, Gerard Malanga, "International Velvet," Ingrid Superstar, Mario
Montez, and "Pope" Ondine. Ondine will be present to speak on the film and
answer questions from the audience. Don't miss this exciting cinematic

TON ITE at Angell Hall Aud. "A"
7:00 ONLY $2.00

The Ann Arr Film Cooperive presents at Schoring Aud.:
The Ninth Ann Arbor 8mm Film Festival
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, February 16, 17, and 18
Schorling Auditorium, School of Education
8mm filmmakers from all over the U.S. and Canada will compete for
over $1,000 in cash and prizes, given by an awards jury for excellence
in the growing field of 8mm film. Friday shows at 7 & 9, and Saturday
shows dit 2, 7, & 9 are all different. Winners and highlights will be
screened on Sunday at 7 and 9.
Admission $ I per show

Mediatrics presents:
(Steven Spielberg) First time on campus. A global search for answers to the
mysteries of unidentified flying objects which have fueled one of the most
intriguing controversies of our time. This magnificent presentation of the
concept of extra-terrestrial visitors creates a truly unique experience in
motion' picture entertainment. It brings you as close as possible to an event
that could be the most momentous of our time-the exoerience of contact
with alien beings: With RICHARD DREYFUSS.
Friday, Feb. 16 Nat Sci Aud 6:30, 9:00, 11:30
Saturday, Feb. 17 admission $150
(Thursday's film is cancelled)






Michi anensian

11 A .0. I 6 l_.= 1l IA A'NIH

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