THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Vasco: Ill dreamt anti-war play
Friday, December 10, 1971
Program Information 665-6290
By TERENCE LAMUDE
What can you say about a
Passably interesting but hardly
stageworthy liit tle anti-war
tragicomedy performed with the
sincerest of intentions that dies?
My first reaction was to dismiss
Vasco by Georges Shehade as
another misguided piece of te-
dium from the educational thea-
ter with only a few fleeting m:,-
ments of entertainment for the
audience. But my final reaction
is that the reasons for the fail-
ure of the production are too
serious to be handled either
glibly or vehemently.
The major problem is the play
itself. Granted there is some
charm to the story of a timid
hairdresser who is unwittingly
thrust into the ill-fitted role of
a spy and saves the day if not
his own hide. Shrouded in anti-
war conceits and some curious
philosophical turns, it could even
Joe Hill: New view of an alien
By RICHARD GLATZER
Though John Wayne would
have it otherwise, the U.S.A. is
not Shangri-La, and if ever we
manage to forget that it's not,
foreign filmmakers will be there
to hit us over the head with the
truth. Possibly under the mis-
conception that distance equals
insight, Godard, Antonioni, Les-
ter, and Forman have all tried
their hands at pointing out just
how plastic and superficial our
lives are. So if somehow you tire
of, "Try it, you'll like it," you
can always run over to the Guild
and see Antonioni's vast pano-
ramas of billboards or Godard's
people who talk like Josephine
Bo Widerberg's Joe Hill, the.
l a t e s t alien's - eye view of
America, avoids the pitfalls of
its predecessors by choosing as
a subject the true story of a
man as far removed from "the
children of Pepsi and Marxism"
as Grandma is. Joe Hillstrom,
living in the early part of this
century, was an immigrant who
travelled across our country tak-
ing on odd jobs, became a bit
disgruntled with labor condi-
tions, and attempted to do some-
thing about them. Whether writ-
ing protest songs, organizing op-
pressed workers, or donating his
efforts to the International Work-
ers of the World, Joe Hill was a
man who cared about people.
Bo Widerberg also cares about
people. I mean, anyone who dedi-
cates a movie to the girls (no
sexist this Widerberg) of the
textile mills of Lawrencetown,
Mass., then opens the film with
an unsteady shot of the Statue of
Liberty has his heart in the right
place. This guy really likes
America and Americans.
So it's not surprising that
Widerberg attempts to show how
close he .is to us by 'trying to
imbue Joe Hill with a turn-of-the-
century American folksiness. It's
drag-out-the-cliches time again.
Some rootsy slide guitar for a
start. Then the baseball games
in city lots, the upturned and
overflowing garbage cans, the
freight-train hopping bums. And
let's not forget the five-year-old
kid who knows all the ins and
outs of the city.
The problem is that Wider-
berg's five-year-old has got an
accent that's either upper Lithu-
anian or a Swedish version of
Brooklynese. And that's not all
the film lacks in realism. Cathy
Smith's interpretation of one of
Joe's mistresses is as convinc-
ing as Billy Graham. For all Bo's
good intentions, the movie yust
duzzn't zeem rrright.
But what about Joe Hillstrom?
He's supposed to 'have an accent.
Well, Joe's played by Thommy
Berggren, a veteran of Wider-
berg's Elvira Madigan. In that
harmless bit of pseudo-lyricism,
Thommy served his function: he
blended into the scenery. And in,
Joe Hill, Berggren once again,
proves he's a versatile prop.
Thommy's Hill is totally blank,
as smilingly empty as a rag doll.
And though Widerberg does oc-
casionally attempt to sketch in
Joe's character and motivations
from one episodic sequence to
the next, the sole trait that
comes through is Hill's martyr
complex. What a saint! He even
wills his ashes to the I.W.W.
It's too bad, because Joe Hill-
strom's story is a good one, one
that could have been a moving
and human way of chronicling
the struggle of the early labor
unions. As it stands, Joe Hill is
very much like Joan Baez's
rendition of the title song that
frames the movie: as full of
good intentions as Santa Claus,
carried along by the appeal of
its subject and its sincerity, yet
ultimately lifeless and dull..
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be instructive. But Lucia Vic-
tor's adaptation is too literary
and stilted to work effectively
on stage. As Yeats pointed out
about his "carpet plays," some
scripts are more effective being
read to friends in a parlor with
the carpet as the stage than
performed as a theatrical piece.
However, even the most stulti-
fyingly boring plays can be
dressed up to look good. What
Vasco needs is a zestful sense of
fantasy, an energetic pace, and
a sense of comic style and pa-
nache to underline the tragic
fate and destiny of its hero.
It receives none of this. Rarely
have I seen such low energy,
poor projection, sloppy diction,
stiff or listless movement, in-
excusable mugging, lackluster
comic timing, and trite detailing
of characterization from a cast.
With A few exceptions, the level
of acting is a terrible reflection
on the training they have re-
ceived. Danny Lipman in the
title role did possess a certain
charm and endearing whimsy,
Frederick Ollerman in three
roles displayed an easy and
knowing sense of comic style,
and Lisa Goodman, in an all-
too-brief appearance, was lovely,
amusing, and vivacious.
Most of the blame for all this,
justifiably or unjustifiably, must
always rest with the director,
who is responsible for setting
the style, instilling the energy,
'4r Igatty Calendar
Friday, Dec. 10
"Daughters of Darkness," 8 and 11 p.m.*
"Next," 6:30 and 9:30 p.m.*
Cinema Guild, Architecture Auditorium
"Anatahan," 7 and 9 p.m.*
"The Touch," 7 and 9 p.m.*
ARM/Michigan Film Society, Natural Science Aud.
"Citizen Kane," 8 and 10 p.m.*
Cinema II, Aud. A, Angell Hall
"The Firemen's Ball," 7 and 9 p.m.*
"Carry on Camping," 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 p.m.*
Showcase Productions Trueblood Auditorium
"Vasco" by George Schehade, 8 p.m.*
John Sinclair Benefit, 7 p.m.*
Rive Gauche, corner of Hill St. and E. University
Folksinger Charles Brauer, 9 p.m.
HURRY! LAST DAYS
Today at 1-3-5-7-9
-. . .gut-tightening thriller and one of the most
exciting films you'll see this year!"Ken Barnard-Qet. News
"PLAY MISTY FOR ME"
,..an Invitationl to terror...
and orchestrating the perform-
ances. Suzanne Dieckman has
obviously tried valiantly but has
failed to do so. Her direction was
dull and unimaginative and oft-
en betrayed the playwright's in-
Schehade's play, at Trueblood
Auditorium Friday and Satur-
day evenings, would have been
better served if it had stayed in
an Eric Bentley anthology. This
was not the stuff theatrical
dreams are made on.
AT STATE & LIBERTY
T bE * Dial 662-6264
Shows at 1, 3, 5, 79 P.
out;ea r* NOW SHOWINGI
"It's a joy ... the jokes
and gags are nonstop."
Amecan internatonali. COLOR
GILBERT and SULLIVAN'S
TWO PERFORMANCES TONIGHT
7:00 P.M. and 9:30 P.M.
All Seats $2.50
SATURDAY MATINEE TOMORROW
All Seats $2.00
SATURDAY NIGHT SOLD OUT!
LYDIA MENDELSSOHN BOX OFFICE
TODAY: 10 A.M.-9:30 P.M.
TOMORROW: 10 A.M.-8:00 P.M.
English Music Hall
ARM/Michigan Film Society presents
The $60,000,000 ego-trip of
Charles Foster Kane
"He had some private form of greatness, but he
kept it to himself."-Rosebud
NATURAL SCIENCE AUDITORIUM
8 and 10 p.m. $1 cont.
1411 Kill STREET
-- - -
"INGMAR BERGMAN'S'THE TOUCH' IS THE BEST
FILM ABOUT LOVE HE HAS EVER MADE."
-Penelope Gilliatt, The Ncw Yorker
- -.- . .
:. , ism
When in the course of human events it becomes necessary to
inform you of a SNEAK PREVUE of a hilarious X-rated movie, the title
U of M Arts Chorale I
Dec. 12, 1971 at 8:00 P.M.
in Hill Auditorium
Works by Stravinski, Poulenc, Britton
Bach, Pinkham, and others.
MAYNARD KLEIN, conductor
and contents of which we are not permitted to divulge . . and whereas
you are endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights ...
and one of these is the pursuit of HAPPINESS.
It becomes your privilege to attend the CAMPUS Theatre
SATURDAY EVENING, DECEMBER 11th. One showing only at 9 P.M.
ENJOY ENJOY ENJOY
LOIS GRANBERG Theatre Manager
P.S. A hint of the title.. . "T. D. MOVIE"Af
THE BLUSHES BEGIN AT 9 P.M. COME EARLY
'1 a . ". f. .: . . "e : w
A fascinating panorama of the
American labor movement.
with: KINO PRAVDA
An early account of the steps made toward
Socialism in the Soviet Union.
Supervised and directed by-DZIGA VERTOV
ONE PERFORMANCE ONLY
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 11
Jesus Christ Su persta r'
As Interpreted by
THE NEW YORK TOURING COMPANY
Preceding the Performance
THE BRANDYWINE-In Concert