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'Hostage': Bringing out the best and worst
By JAN BENEDETTI
Something about Brendan Be-
han's plays seem to bring out the
best - and the worst - in ac-
tors. And directors, too.
The Hostage, a Michigan Re-
pertory '72 production running
alternately with Love's Labour's
Lost through July 29 at the Pow-
er Center, is a case in point.
The plot concerns a y o u n g
British soldier who is held hos-
tage in return for an IRA man
in a Belfast jail.
Mixed in with the comedy,
melancholy, and the complexities
of Irish history, the play gives
the actors many chances to en-
tertainingly ham it up.
The script encourages multiple
opportunities for ad bibs, songs,
jokes, and improvisations and the
actors take full advantage of it.
Behan provides his assortment
of Irish lower class types includ-
ing whores, crazies, fanatics,
gays and naive victims. Though
the acting is generally good, sev-
eral of the actors succumb to
the temptation of overplaying
once too often.
The innumerable songs also
get to be a bit much. The direc-
tor, Stephen Wyman, could have
cut several to save the sanity
of his audience.
The songs that weren't about
Irish history were religious, the
ones that weren't religious were
bawdy and the rest were just
Wyman could also have impos-
ed a tighter limit on the exces-
sive ad libs, especially when the
anachronisms become unpleas-
antly thick. The play, supposedly
set in 1958, brims with ad libs
referring to Brezhnev, Westmore-
land and the 70's clashing with
real 50's jokes. (like the Queen
for a Day TV show),
Kenneth Marshall is effective
as the luckless British soldier
held hostage, though a few of his
exchanges with Teresa, played
by Ann Crumb, degenerate into
a battle of shrill vs. shriller.
Crumb gives one of the con-
sistently fine performances in
the show. She is touching and de-
lightful as the young country girl
who is attracted to the hostage.
Constance Meng's characteri-
zation of Miss Gilchrist is con-
fusing to say the least. I could
not decide whether she was a
holier-than-thou Salvation Army
worker or crazy or stupid or all
of the above. Her songs certain-
ly ranked as the most incompre-
hensible dittys in the play.
Terrence Haggerty is woefully
miscast as an IRA officer.
A play review always offers a
temptation to preach. So for to-
day's sermon, I'll dwell on the
obnoxious stereotype of gay per-
sons in most plays. The Hostage
has one gay character, so of
course he's the limp-wristed,
simple unreal one-dimensional
bore. I find it increasingly of-
fensive to see gay people pre-
sented on stage in this simplis-
James Slaughter has the un-
enviable task of portraying the
gay Rio Rita. He is good with-
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WE ARE AT
(next to SAB )
upstairs in the City Room
in the boundaries of the role,
and contributes many hilarious
ad libs. But the character never
rises about the stereotype.
Slaughter is not to be faulted,
however, since the sin is pri-
A last word. What does it
mean, at the end of the play,
when the soldier dies and then
jumps up singing a little tune
about "Death where is thy sting-
a-ling-a-ling??" The last touch
of black humor or whatever it
was ruined a moving tableau of
the dead soldier and the mourn-
I enjoyed this production of
The Hostage, but I left the thea-
tre somewhat unsatisfied. The
stereotypes hampered the de-
velopment of the play and the
creation of believable characters.
Members of the Ann Arbor
community are invited by the
School of Music to try out for
the chorus of Mozart's comic
opera, "Cosi Fan Tutte," being
produced by the School, August
18, 19, 21, and 22, at the Men-
delssohn Theatre. Anyone who
is interested should call Prof.
Josef Blatt at 764-2526 or 668-
The opera will be sung in En-
glish and staged by Prof. Ralph
FRIDAY, JULY 21
International Folk Dance: Barbour
Gym, 8-11 pm.
Music Sho: Sister Lorraine Ther-
esa Milier, organ, Hus Aud.
University Players: Behan's "The
Hostage," Power Center, 8 pm.
.. Astronomy Dept.: R. L. Sears, "The
Death of a Star: The Crab Nebula,"
and film, "The Invisible Planet," Aud.
B, Angell Hall, 8:30 pm.
Co-See Family Night: for faulty/
staff, IM Bldg., 7-10 pm,
CAREER PLANNING & PLACEMENT
INTERVIEWING: Action / Peace
Corps/Vista, will be on Campus to in-
terview students Wed., July 2 &
Thurs. July 27, Room 3518 SAB.
YOUTH WORKSHOP IN ISRAEL: 1
yr. of work & study based on a kib-
butz*in Israel, min.age 17, trip leaves
N.Y. in Sept. & returns Aug. 1973,
Tuition: $100, coupon available in CP
& P for appication request.
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