THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Saturday, February 26, 1972
From boxes to bathtub
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LISA GOODMAN and Randall Forte in a scene from Last Respects.
By MARCIA ABRAMSON
Last Respects has its moments,
sometimes of laughter, n o w
and then of meaning. But, in so
heralded a production, the stu-.
dent play of the season, by the
"prestigious" Professional Thea-
tre Program, those good mom-
ents are not enough.
Danny Lipman is very much a
student playwright. He has built.
and with, some success, on
Brecht, Pirandello, theatre of
the absurd, mime - as you
would expect. Perhaps most
promising is Lipman's attempt
to use these sources in a social
comedy, to blend parody, fan-
tasy, farce, theatrical tricks and
games into a study of contem-
porary life that has a serious
impact as well.
Unfortunately, Lipman devel-
ops problems in handling t h i s
type of social comedy because of
his heavy reliance on Neil Si-
mon - New York theatre. That's
all right for Neil Simon, w h o
churns it out, but hopefully 21-
year-old Shubert Fellowship win-
ners can do better than stumble
over tired psychiatrist-taxi pric-
es - middle age - paranoia ines.
There is dramatic potential
in the conception of Last Re-
spects. On his 21st birthday, the
son of a middle class maker
of paper boxes (get it-boxes?)
commits suicide, drowning mun-
danely in the bathtub.
Throughout the play, Joel sits
on the stage in his bathrobe, en-
tering the minds of people who
knew him and sometimes con-
ing right into the action as they
relive their involvement - or
lack of it - with him. J o e 1 ' s
alienation comes alive in t h e
vaudeville signs he uses to an-
nounce the "acts" of his fam-
Unfortunately, most of these
acts are neither funny nor tell-
ing. Lipman depends too much u
on stereotype situations a n d
characters. Joel's father is a
bourgeoise businessman, that
all-purpose butt; his mother is
of course scatterbrained from
years of uselessness. T h e i r
friends drink too much a n d
play adult games like "therapy,"
and they all go to psychiatrists.
The catch phrase of Last Re-
pects is "I know what you
mean." Everyone says it, all the
time, but there is no under-
standing. The guests cannot con-
sole the parents; father a n d
sons cannot communicate at all.
So Joel is alienated. Under-
standable. He does not want to
be forced into his father's busi-
mess or into bed withhthe girl
next door. What does he want?
He doesn't know, or doesn't
say. But one of the serious
weaknesses in the play is Joel's -
lack of development - he just
sulks, except for the final scene
in which he shows some feeling
for his fallen father and for a
brief moment with his mother.
What does Joel mean? The aud-
ience never knows.
Lipman becomes too distract-
ed with minor characters - the
nymphomaniac type girl next
door, the cop on the case, the
neighbors. The use of a circle
of characterizations to reveal
Joel's world could work, but in
this play becomes too diffuse.
We never know enough to feel or
understand more than a little of
Joel's and his father's anguish.
All the words - and there are
a lot of them - get us nothing.
Directory Harvey Medlinsky, a
Mike Nichols' associate, keeps
a good pace. The acting gener-
ally is adequate for roles that
are really not particularly de-
manding. Lipman is best at
writing his "Acts," breaking the
play into a Busby Berkeley rou-
tine, a calypso song, a ganie of
"Face the Music" (if you loved
the Firesign Theater's "Beat the
Reaper" you'll like "Face the
Perhaps the best thing Lipman
does give us is Ian Stulberg as
Scruffy the Wonder Dog. Stul-
berg is an excellent actor, and
his realistic Scuffy is the fun-
niest bit in this play. Stulberg
stretches, begs, stalks, barks,
carries his bone - and gets to
Circle-K Club 01
Director of Housing
SUN., 7:30 P.M.
^3rd floor S.A.B.
on any new
FACTORY AI R
Dir. Ernst Lubitsch, 1946
1933. with Gary Cooper
and Frederic March.
Ernst Lubilsch Festival
Editor's Note: The following
review by Richard Glatzer and
movie calendar were omitted
from yesterday's Cinema Week-
end due to space limitations.
DESIGN FOR LIVING
' Based on a Noel Coward play,
Design for Living sounds totally
cynical. The plot revolves around
a commercial artist (Miriam
Hopkins) and her libertine ad-
ventures with a playwright
(Frederic March), an artist
(iGary Cooper), and an advertis-
ing executive . (Edward Everett
Horton). Though reportedly a
comedy (and a funny one), An-
drew Sarris has recently at-
tempted some revisionist critic-
ism claiming Design is a more
serious film than people give it
credit for. And with a screen-
play by Ben Hecht and a sur-
prisingly unromantic story 1:nc,
that sounds very possible.
This film not seen at press
HOLY OUTLAW - Sunday,
ON T H E WATERFRONT
and THE FROZEN NORTH-
Monday, Tenants Union
THE DAMNED - Tuesday,
Ann Arbor Film Coop
THE HUNCHBACK OF
NOTRE D A M E and THE
THE LOST MAN-Wed-Fri-
THE TRIP-Thursday, Ann
Arbor Film Coop
o pice o
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Sister McAlister, whose Active Opposition to the War and the
Draft has earned her a Federal Indictment for "conspiracy" is on
trial now in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She is in Ann Arbor today
for a series of conversations with interested people
tickets $2 at the door
legal defense benefit-UM Film Soc.
ONE NIGHT ONLY!
THIS SUNDAY ;
ONE NIGHT ONLY!
THE ANN ARBOR PREMIERE OF
Directed by Conrad Rooks; 1966
with Ed & Penny Tric-
kett, George & Gerry
Armstrong, S a n d y &
Caroline Paton, R u t h
Meyer, Joe Hickerson
& Barry O'Neill.
The plot of CHAPPAQUA can be summed up in a few words. An evi-
dently wealthy young addict flies from New York to Paris, where, at a
private clinic in the suburbs, he takes a cure that may or may not
prove permanent. But the real settings are not the Central Park Res-
ervoir, or a plane high over the Atlantic, or a steep-roofed nineteenth-
century chateau that houses the clinic, but the wild and terrible moon
country of an exploding mind, and the real action of the movie con-
sists of a disorientated mingling of recollection and fantasy. Mr. Rooks
and his gifted director of photography, Robert Frank, have managed
to find convincing pictorial equivalents for an extraordinary range of
mental states. Like a flung top, the movie seems to spin headlong in
widening circles, with nothing but velocity to give it the erect posture
emergence into the single metaphor of a helicopter spiralling upward
over the chateau; at that moment the hero is simultaneously a figure
in the helicopter, waving a cheerful goodbye to his former keepers, and
a white-jacketed figure madly mounting the topmost stony pinnacles
of the chateau.
The cast of CHAPPAQUA is surely one of the most diverse in movie
history. It contains, among many others, Jean-Louis Barrault (the
gentle doctor in charge of the clinic), William S. Burroughs (a splendid
villain), Allen Ginsberg, Ravi Shankar, Paula Pritchett, Ornette Cole-
man, Swami Satchidananda, and the Fugs. The brilliant editing of
CHAPPAQUA is by Kenout Peltier, and much of the beautiful score
was comnnpe b v ~ii Shanr,'Ttiv rema,,ins fto, addthatf the titter