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September 03, 1970 - Image 2

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The Michigan Daily, 1970-09-03

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Page Two

THEMICHIGAN DAILY

Thursday, September.3, 1970

Page Two THE MICHIGAN DAILY Thursday, September.3, 1970

theatre-
Going to School'-and liking it!

Aging doesn't mellow
Stratford's 'Triends'

By LAURIE HARRIS
Arts Editor
A thrust stage requires action.
Michael Langham, director of
Richard B r i n s 1 e y Sheridan's
School f o r Scandal, at Strat-
ford, Ontario has mastered this
technique. People are continual-
ly disappearing and reappear-
ing from all the various corners
of the Festival Theatre's stage
developingssomething new for
eighteenth century 'comedy
action.
School is about two, brothers,
Charles and Joseph Surface,
who live on the in absentia
wealth of their uncle, Sir Oliver.
Joseph appears to be the true
man of sentiment while Charles
is the classic rake, each vying
for the same girl's affection. In
the end, of course, the one with
true feelings is the rake and
the man of sentiment is expos-,
ed to be the hypocrite.
Most of the action takes place
in Lady Sneerwell's little par-
lor of gossiping males and fe-
males each trying to out do the
next on his dirt for the day. "I
got it from one who got it from
one who got it ,from one ..."
and thereby condemn the fash-
ionable people of London. Sir
Peter Teazle, a rather elderly
bachelor has j u s t married a
young woman from the coun-
try who is rapidly entering the
Sneerwell crowd, much to the
distaste of her husband.

Sheridan has played onoma-
topoeia with characters treat-
ing Benjamin Backbite, Crab-
tree, Lady Sneerwell, Mrs. Can-
dour and the Surfaces w h o,
naturally are not what they ap-
pear to be on the surface. The
summation of characters a n d
plot createsatypical eighteen-
th century comedy, but it takes
Michael Larigham along with
Leslie SHurry's designs to turn
this once drawing room comedy
into a bawdy, almost-musical
comedy of the twentieth cen-
tury. And they have d o n e it
with grace - .a feat not easily
achieved.
Each costume is a material
extension of what comprises the
character with the actors tak-
ing on their robes and parts as
though they were one. Snake, a
turncoat, wears a greenish, pais-
ley-snakey looking coat, just a
little too large - like a skin
about to be shed. Eric Donkin
told me putting on a costume
designed by Leslie Hurry is like
being' dictated exactly how the
role should be played. As Ben-
jamin Backbite, Donkin flirts
onto th stage in a green satin
striped suit matched w i t h
shocking pink stockings. All the
while he effeminately quip$
horrible odes o his own pen
fluttering his eyelashes and
plumed hat.
Lady Teazle, a country girl,
is a new woman of fashion and

Helen Carey plays her with all
the awkwardness her bo-peep-
ish costumes dictate.
A new dimension in acting is
brought to the stage as Robin
Gammell (Joseph Surface) acts
and reacts with his legs. (Never
have I seen such expressive
knees before in my life!) His
legs slidefand glide around the
stage as his plans for his uncle's
fortune run smoothly, and they
become more and more shakey
when his exposure as a hypo-
crite nears. Gammell's voice, al-
so, is in constant flux. When he
is putting on the surgary santi-
ments of the man he wishes to
appear his voice is equally as
false, pitched just a little too
high, reaching an apogee in fal-
setto when his undoing is com-
plete.
The direction, however, is
still the outstanding factor.
Opening the second act, the
scene in Charles' house, w a s
once rather sedate with a bit.
of drinking - maybe, followed
by the entrance of Sir Oliver
disguised as a money lender.
Langham's scene is gilded with
Stanley Silverman's jazzed up
music, carousing by all of Char-
les' group and with the en-
trance-of the wenches' who pro-
ceed to do a semi-strip as one
knows wenches are supposed to
do, but not in the eighteenth
century.

Arnold Wesker's play T h e
Friends is about a group of
designers in their early thirties
or late twenties. Herein lies the
major fault of director Kurt
Reis' production at Stratford
this summer. Kate Reid, Wil-
liam Needles and the rest of
the 'youthful' group look their
actual ages which is hardly that
of thirty.
The play itself is about five
trend setters who have ended
up living and working together,
but their own interaction has
precluded the continuance .of
their work as designers and
their business is rapidly going
bankrupt. Esther (Kate Reid),
the spiritual leader of the group
is dying of leukemia eventually
expiring by the end of the first
act. This physical crisis brings
the friends to a real crisis of
humanity - one they must face.
unlike the financial worries of
the business.
Simone brings the group to
realize they must do what they
want with the now dead body
of Esther. In a leap from be-
lief in the suffering of death
the friends begin to worship life,
propping Esther up as though
she had never really died. Now
they are able to survive.
Though the play is not very
good as a whole it brings up
some interesting comments and
theories on the revolution and
the working class. Each of the
friends has risen from a pover-
ty background, excluding Si-
mone, and has now become rich.
Their modern trends feed the
capitalistic society that they
were essentially trying to sub-
vert. They live in a home com-

munally - almost incestuously
- and the home becomes what
Macey, their manager, terms
'a disease'. The audience is
confronted with a not too sub-
tle, often dull sensitivity train-
ing session.
The big name player for the
production, Kate Reid, lies on
a bed moaning and dying
through the first act and lies
on the same bed, dead, through
the second. The part is not very
demanding for such an ac-
complished actress and one
wonders at the waste of her tal-
ent.
Salem Ludwig, as Macey, puts
out the best performance of
the group playing a Jewish man-
ager wizened by his age and
ability. The part itself, is a less
superficial attempt than t h e
others for Macey is a philoso-
pher commenting on the mean-
ing of words.
It is he who says 'you're all
wierd' and this is the problem
with the play. The characters
are so wierd they are not believ-
able. For instance Roland
(Richard Curnock) tries to
simulate Esther's pain by
slashing his body with a razor.
The effect is devastating, not
artistic.
The sets, designed by Peter
Wingate, are perhaps the best
explanation of The Friends.
The room is an old one, which
seems to be the. preference of
modern designers, and it is fill-
ed with not just the friends but
with their possessions and their
creations so that it becomes a
truer representation of the
characters than the characters
themselves.

Near Hospilal,
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1412 GEDDES near Observatory
230 and $250
per month
4% interest on damage deposit
RESIDENT MANAGER
DAYS 761-5599
EVENINGS 761-2827

--Douglas Spillane; Stratford, Ontario
Meet the Teazles:
Stephen Murray and Helen Carey

To bring Sir Oliver to t h e
stage from his seventeen years
in India, Langham and Hurry
have cooped him up in a ser-
vant carried standchair. A black
form emerges (Mervyn Blake)
and is slowly and dramatically
unwrapped to reveal the most
congenial and w e 11 liked Sir
Oliver.
The primary feat of direction
comes towards the end of 'the
play in Joseph Surface's apart-
ment. Lady Teazle, his pretend-
ed lover, is in the room when
POTENTIAL REVIEWERS
Are you interested in writing
reviews for The Daily? We are
always in need of new review-
ers in any field. This includes
records, especially pop and
rock, theatre, music, dance, art
and literature. Please contact
Laurie Harris, Arts Editor, at
The Daily, 764-0552,
FX VILLaGE
375 No.MAPLE RD.-"769-4300
Tues.-Fri. 7:25 & 9:45
Sat.-Mon. 1:00, 5:10, 7:25, 9:45

her husband arrives. She hides
behind a screen, her husband.
enters, almost discovers her and
then he is hidden from Charles
Surface in a chest. The scene
proceeds to be a riot of ups and
downs with a constant almost
exposure of each of the par-
ties . . at least f o r a little
while until /all is ultimately re-
vealed.

h46
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-N.Y. Times

-Douglas Spillane; Stratford, Ontario
Charles Surface (Barry MacGregor) meets his uncle (Mervyn Blake)

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