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February 23, 1979 - Image 7

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-02-23

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The Michigan Daily-Friday, February 23, 1979-Page 7
'BANDIT' UNMASKED:
Attic offers a dismal log

.)Ui.)

Special
Attraction

I

By CHRISTOPHER POTTER
Mark Medoff is arguably one of the
most talented new American
playwrights around today. He is
capable of producing works of searing
intensity, as anyone who's witnessed
his powerhouse When You Comin'
Back, Red Ryder? will attest. We now
sorrowfully discover he can also in-
dulge in vehicles of completely
pedestrian tedium, as the Detroit Attic
Theatre's current, abysmal production
The Halloween Bandit wincingly bears
out.
The Attic's presentation is almost the
equivalent of a world premiere: Bandit
did play in New York for a brief two-
week run last November, but was buf-
feted throughout by cast illnesses and
other unforeseen cataclysms. Medoff
subsequently yanked the show, perfor-
med an extensive rewrite on the second
act, then acceded to the Attic's request
to premiere the revised version.
IT TURNS OUT to have been a
dubious artistic coup at best. The
Halloween Bandit is poorly written,
poorly staged, at best inconsistently ac-
ted. Presumably it has not yet reached
its final form, yet the play's current
framework is so wobbly and its last act
such a chaotic disaster that I wonder if
Medoff didn't speak sagely when he on-
ce said he never wanted to work on
Bandit again.
Medoff's dim tale of a menage a trois
opens in the New York apartment of
Eddie Rose and Grace Rice, seemingly
happy unmarried marrieds secure in
their Big Apple environment. Eddie
(Randall Forte) runs a successful
catering service, Grace (Divina Cook)
is a famous TV actress-model (mostly
commercials), now strictly part-time,
as Eddie prefers being the household's
sole breadwinner.
On the surface they're a model couple
- yet once Eddie has departed for work
we see that Grace is discontent.
Clothed in her bathrobe she stares
wearily into her mirror for a long
minute, and you can practically hear
her pour soul screaming, "Why am I so
bored and unfulfilled? Why, - oh why
must I wither away inside these four
walls?"
FORTUNATELY, relief is just a
stairway away. Into the apartment and
plot bounds Medoff's equivalent of Ten-
nessee Williams' wandering stud. He
goes by the pseudonym Hector, and
gains access to Grace's quarters by
masquerading as the grocery
eliveryman. He swaggeringly refuses
o leave, and soon has his unwilling
stess both terrified and entranced by
4s scarily:, erf.tic yet rmesmerizing
achiinations.
Played by'actor James Woods -(who
ears an unnerving resemblance to
aul Newman), Hector is by turns
harming and menacing, coyly
umorous then savagely brutal as he,
atiently stalks Grace around her apar-
ment.; Sex is obviously an over-
owering concern to him (and her), yet
it proves only one -item among many.
ike an erratic philsopher-king, Hector
bombards Grace with a rapid-fire

Mb

monologue of barbs, endearments'and
insults, with the slogan "PROFOUND
TRUTH" unsubtly hung like a sign on
every line.
The parallel between Hector and the
psychotic drifter of Medoff's Red Ryder
is temporarily obvious. The concept of
a powerful, enigmatic stranger har-
pooning others into seeing the
hypocrisy of their own lives is at best a
risky, conceit-threatened theatrical
device; yet the sheer ferocity and
rhythmic build in Red Ryder brought
the whole concept off.
In Halloween Bandit it doesn't work
at all, largely because Medoff abruptly
drops the idea in midstream. Hector
suddenly discards his stud mode, dons a
pair of glasses and declares himself to
be Alvin, an ex-college beau of Grace's
returned at last to claim her.
Grace is more bewildered than ever,
but nervously humors him as Hec-
tor/Alvin gushes into a long speech
about how she forsook hin first for
someone named Bobby Bergsteen, then
later for Eddie Rose. He rants against
Bergsteen, mourns 1 Grace's loss,,
decries her eventual evolution into TV's
"golden girl." Working himself into a
frenzy, he viciously throws her to her
knees and seems about to commit oral
rape as the scene abruptly ends.
Material like this can't help but be'
crudely compelling, though its often as
thin as tissue paper underneath. It
sinks or swims largely as do its actors,.
and of the two performers James
Woods fares much better. He milk's his
God-given Newman aura for all it's
worth in his movement, his delivery,
his oft-flashed killer smile. It's patently
derivative, of course, but still effective.
Woods handles the transition from Hec-
tor to Alvin rather clumsily, but has
worked up such a white-hot intensity by
then that his fury carries him through
the act.
DIVINA COOK'S problems with
Grace are more obvious and acute.
Physically, she just isn't pretty or
charismatic enough to embody convin-
-cingly a media goddess lusted after by
millions. Emotionally one never gets
the feeling she's really a victim of the
menacing predicament threatening
her; one doesn't sense the maddening,
contradictory war between terror and
carnal liberation which plays havoc
with Grace's psyche from Hector's
ministrations.
Cook is too passive - not indignant
enough on the one hand or turned-on
enough on the other. When, after a
bombardment of sadistic taunts, Hec-
tor declares, "You wish you could kill
JUMPFISH JUMP
ATEANECK, N.J. (AP) - Caviar
lovers have been buying more lumpfish
eggs than any other kind of roe, accor-
ding to an industry leader.
With the price of sturgeon caviar
climbing sharply because of over-
fishing, sales of lumpfish, salmon and
whitefish roe have moved into the lead,

me for this" and she screams back
"Yes!", you don't believe her for a
second. It's acting as acting, not being.
Thus far, Halloween Bandit is at least
a diverting show; then Act Two clob-
bers us like a lead balloon. It's evening
now. Grace stands alone in her apar-
tment - dark save for the glowing TV
set - looking sadder but wiser. When
Eddie comes back from work, she's
cold as ice.
EDDIE SEEMS not to notice, an-
nouncing that an old college buddy is
stopping by for drinks. And, in the best
Sigmund Freud-Johann Strauss
tradition, it's - you guessed it! - Hec-
tor/Alvin at last revealed as the real
Bobby Bergsteen, a relic from Eddie's,
not Grace's past, and a successful
Miami plastic surgeon. Egad!!
It seems Eddie and Bobby/Hec-
tor/Alvin have been bearing a mutual
cross these many years: A mutual lost
ladylove committed a memorably
grisly suicide in the lads' fraternity
house long ago, with Bobby and Eddie
blaming both themselves and each.
other ever since. In the process, Bobby
has symbolically meshed the dead girl
with Grace, as has Eddie in a more
subliminal sense.
Thus, Bobby hates Eddie, Eddie
hates Bobby, and Grace for the moment
hates both Eddie and Bobby; so for the
next hour. we watch the three of them
hurl bitchy, skeleton-in-the-closet
revelations at each other in a fourth-
rate Virginia Woolf exorcism rite

minus the slightest insight into what
they're exorcising or even what they're
being bitchy about.
MEDOFF'S DIALOGUE is
stupifyingly banal and flat, scoring at
least ten misses for every hit. He
throws up a lot of off-color anatomical
references, a large dose of pseudo-
symbolism about Halloween ghosts
cleansing hurt souls, and gobs of trite
neurotic desperation ("I just can't
seem to take control of me," Bobby
moans).
Actor Woods is once again saddled
with carrying the brunt of this cumber-
some load. Yet, burdened with a
character far less interesting than Hec-
tor/Alvin of Act I, he completely runs
out of steam. Woods' delivery slowly
withers into a numbing monotone so
inert that after awhile it's virtually im-
possible to concentrate on what he's
saying at all.
As Eddie, Randall Forte transmits a
booming, ennunciated delivery a bit
jarringly at odds with his slight
physique. Forte is a smooth, assured
actor, yet his projection of Eddie - a
rather priggish, righteous individual -
is so overtly smirky that it costs him
more sympathy than Medoff perhaps
intended. Divina Cook . remains laid
back throughout the act, her Grace
haughtily serene in her liberation from
plastic idol into full womanhood -
though how her liberation came about
from Medoff's murky manipulations
and indeed, just what it is she's been
liberated from is anybody's guess.
- The Attic's Susan Brinkley directs
the show's misanthropic proceedings
with an unflagging lack of visual or
rhythmic distinction.
The Halloween Bandit is a truly
dreadful play, a confused, threadbare
work that rests in an embryonic state
despite Medoff's claim that he spent
three years working on it. It's most un-
fortunate that a company normally as
superb as The Attic is now stuck with
this turkey, though the lure of
producing a new piece by a famous
playwright must have been understan-
dably irresistable. Regrettably, in art
as well as in life, fame isn't everything.

William
Windom in
AN EVENING
OF THURBER
POWER CENTER
SUN. FEB. 25, 7:00
tickets are available at:
the Michigan League, 764-0450
hours: 10-1 and 5 weekdays
and Hudson Ticket Outlets
The Ann Arbor Film Cooperative presents in MLB 3
Friday, February 23
ANNIE HALL
(Woody Allen, 1977) - 7& 10:20-MLB3
Perhaps his most polished film, ANNIE HALL succeeds not merely as good
comedy, but as good filmmaking, brilliant acting, and as a stunning, intel-
ligent love story as well. Woody and Diane Keaton star in this chronicle of
a relationship between two New York.City neurotics. Academy ;Award,
Best Picture, Best Actress.
WOODY ALLEN RETROSPECTIVE
8:40 only-MLB 3
Recently unearthed from the archives, THE LAUGHMAKER (1963) concerns a
group of improvisational comics (including ALAN "M.A.S.H." ALDA and
LOUISE "Mary Hartman" LASSER) whose one goal in life is to appear on the
Ed Sullivan Show. In WOODY ALLEN: AMER ICAN COMEDY (1977), Woody
traces his development from a non-literate adolescent to a mature comic
and filmmaker. Great clips from woody's best.
Tomorrow: THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE & THE GODFATHER
g- * NOW!
Fri. & Sat.7:30 & 9:15
Sun. 5:45, 7:30, 9:45
Your eyes..
"r" .Your ears..
'~ . Your seses...
will be overwhelmed
PG
- . y 'c:. * ii ,.. 1 1.., :t :- "
ALL SEATS! FRIDAY& SATURDAY'
2.00
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A

GEORGE CUKOR'S

1940

THE PHILADELPHIA STORY
CARY GRANT, KATHERINE HEPBURN and JIMMY STEWART in the sophisti-
cated High Society comedy by Phillip Barry. Two reporters from Spy magazine
crash the latest pre-nuptial proceedings of Tracy Lord, spoiled ex-wife of
Dexter Haven, who seems to be hanging around a lot . . . and Virginia
Weidler creates one of the few child roles in films that leaves you wanting
more. With Holiday & this film Cukor ranks up there with comedy directors
like C.opra, Sturges and Lubitsch.
SAT: Richard PryornIn BLUE COLLAR
SUN: A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE

CINEMA GUILD

TONIGHT AT
7:00 and 9:05

OLD ARCH. AUD.
$1.50

U i

Classic Sex Comedies Festival

Hawks and Cukor Night:

mmmmmr

Detroitjazz stars to
arrive in Ann Arbor

For many years, the Motor City has
een identified as a rich source for
ajor musical talent - from Motown
tars to big band stars, and such major
azz people as Thad Jones, Barry
arris, Yusef Lateef, Kenny Burrell,
Donald Byrd, and Tommy Flanagan.
"Detroit Jazz Artists On Tour 1979,"
a project made possible through the
support of the Michigan Council for the
Arts, this Saturday will bring to Ann
Arbor a packaged show displaying
some of the most prominent jazz
musicians currently rooted in Detroit.
The show is being sponsored by
Eclipse Jazz, and will be at Hill
Auditorium Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Presented by the non-profit Allied Ar-
tists Association, the "Detroit Jazz Ar-
tists On Tour 1979" show features a
diversity of the rennaissance city's
musicians, composers, and performing
groups, including:
«' Sam Sanders and Visions, a hard-
driving quintet skippered by
saxophonist/composer Sam Sanders,
an active musician and educator in the
Detroit area today;
« Griot Galaxy, an eight-piece
"ava'nte-garde" ensemble spearheaded
by saxophonist Faruq Bey, and
featuring guitarist Spencer Barefield,
harpist/flautist Kafi Patrice Nassoma,
clarinetist Elrita Dodds, and the two-
man percussion unit of Sadiq Bey and
Mubarek Hakim;
« Lyman Woodard and the Paradise
Theatre Orchestra, a 13-piece ensemble
featuring stellar trumpet player Mar-
cus Belgrave, guitarist Ron English, a
saxophone section of Allen Barnes,
the most

Lamonte Hamilton, Kenney Garrett
and Doc Holladay, popular drummer
Leonard King, and leader-organist
Lyman Woodard.
The purpose of "Detroit Jazz Artists
on Tour 1979" is to "provide com-
munities throughout the state with this
unique opportunity to see and hear
Detroit's world-class jazz artists,"-and
in many situations various performers
will be able to establish workshops and
clinics.
The "On Tour" project was designed
and is administered' by Strata
Associated, Inc., a Detroit-based "arts
management/advertising/public rela-
tions firm" which has provided similar
services to many other Detroit-area
jazz organizations.

20th Century
A super early screwball comedy that set the stage for the rash of crazy sex
comedies to follow. Egotistical producer John Barrymore tries to seduce star
Carole Lombard while riding the 20th Century-the famous New York City-
Chicago train. Zany incidents and characters abound in script based on the-
legendary Ben Hecht's and Charles MacArthur's sta geplay. Hawks (later,
director of one of screwball's finest, BRINGING UP B BY) says, "We got the
fun out of John Barrymore and Carole Lombard." With a rash of famous
character actors: WALTER CONNOLLY, ROSCOE KARNS, EDGAR KENNEDY,
EDWARD GARGAN. (90m) 7:00 & 10:20
Holiday
Three top names, representative of the best in sex comedies, teamed for
this one: Director George Cukor, one of Hollywood's most reliable and con-
sistent handlers of the genre: KATHERINE HEPBURN, the most durable,
talented, and likeable interpreter of emancipated women's roles; and CARY
GRANT, who in HOLIDAY firmly solidified his irresistible screen presence.
Despite Hepburn's legendary off-screen relationship with Tracy, Cary Grant
remains a strong contender for being her most inspiring screen partner. In
HOLIDAY, Hepburn plays the eccentric member of a N.Y.C. society family
whose conventional sister i engaged to Grant. But Grant is drawn to the
spirit of foolishness and freedam that Hepburn represents, and subsequently,
begins to defect from the traditional road mapped out for him. Cukor and
his two stars would team later in the classic THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, but
it is HOLIDAY that boasts the more lively romantic escapades between them.
With EDWARD EVERETT HORTON, LEW AYRES, DORIS NOLAN, and HENRY
FOLKER. (1938, 94m) 8:40 only
SAT: THE 7% SOLUTION
SUN: "Rocky" & "Fonzie" In LORDS OF FLATBUSH
OneShow-$1.50 ANGELL HALL AUD. "A"
Double-$2.50 TONITE ONLY

WE =RIC WEDESDY IADULTS FRI., SAT.. SUN.
WEDNESDAY IS MONDAY IS EYE. &% HUASA-53.5-
"BARGAIN DAY" 'GUEST NIGHT'' MV.-HUiSivi. 5a
$150 until 5:30 TWO ADULTS ADMTTED ALL MATINEES $1.56
HIDTO5FOR PRICE OF ONE CI 41

r.r.r..

mmmmw

Wayside Theatre
3020 Washtenaw
Ypsilanti

FRIDAY & SAT MIDNIGHT,SHOW
WALT DISNEY'S
"North Avenue Irregfer -

-------- - -

P

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I

"1

F

MON, TUES, THURS, FRI
7:00 & 9:25
SAT, SUN, WED 1-4.7-9:25

FRI. 7& 9:25
SAT. 1-3-5-7-9:25
SUN. & WED. 1-3-5-7-9
They couldn't
have celebrated happier
anniversaries-if they were
married to each other.
Ellen Alarn
Burstyn Alda
" 3ame i i me,
~'Next~'Vear

s'

moo

F

WDEE and Eastern Michigan University
welcome
Wa ylon Jennings
and the original crickets
at BOWEN FIELD HOUSE
Saturday, March 10 at 8 pm

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