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May 27, 1977 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1977-05-27

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Friday, May 27, 1977


Page Five

MM's 'Wine' opens

AI'E Chiidress' Adulco award-wining drama
Wine in the Wilderness, written in 1969,
prnsets the conflict of the black revolution as it
ars on paper and in theory, and its more
is i intarpretation by those struggling
o 'he maelstrom of its everyday existence.
I ;s a cunflict which grows even more relevant
in rctrospect, as this weekend's production by
t'h t Productions Repertory Theatre skillfully
a hstates. ,
tr'tci. Washington plays Cynthia, a college
te cte social worker looking for the perfect
bir fr a painting dramatizing the black
wo s experience. She settles .on down-and-
' ,pinsterish Tomorrow Marie, patronizingly
org her "authenticity" as the poor black
wimau throgh which the beauty f the race ema-
n nte ad thrives - the "wine in the wilder-
hen Tmmy falls for Bill (Ron "OJ" Parson),
the painter, Cynthia gives her tips on 'how to
behave ,o attract a man. In the course of the
conversaton Cynthia injects some of her well-
recorded observations on poverty. Tommy re-
jects her bookish perspective, declaring "When
you in it, yon don't be talkin' about it."
TOMMY IS, on the surface, not interested in
political theories or new definitions. As the living
incarnation of their prophecies, all she really
wants is security in the form of a steady man.
Martin Luther King spoke of his dream, an im-
age Tommy adopts as her own. "I have a dream
too," she says, "a man to treat me halfway de-
When tier father left his family and wound up
unidentified in the morgue, her mother went to
claim him anyway. "I guess a woman needs a
man to claim, even if it is a dead one."
Lines "ike these project the tender poery of
Childress' work. She integrates the ideas of sev-
eral contemporary black writers and pits them
against the reality of those not even educated
enough to read them. "Childress takes 'Soul on

Ice' and 'Black Lbike me,' said program coor-
dinator Mardy Metters, "and pulls out the pig-
ment of those particular books, feelings of the
black sonmntin groving itp in Harlem vs. the black
And today. nloking back, it is interesting 'to
note mss easily such authors were drawn into
the racist, capitalistic structure they sought so
fervently to destroy. This affirmation of Chil-
dress' point by the passage of time lends the
chief seorce of relevance to this otherwise pos-
sibly dated play.
At the dress rehearsal Wednesday night the
production showed real promise. The acting was
superb; both realistic and consistent. Lydia
Sims as Tommy reacted with naturally well-
paced titning that Metters suggested could h've
been reluted to her athletic instincts. Sims is the
starting guard of the U-M women's basketball
team. Her performance had all the charm that
its drive for sincere authenticity demanded.
Ron "OJ" Parson as Bill was equally believ-
ably in his role. Parson was also the director of
the production.
Sunny Man, Francis Washington as Cynthia, and
Willie Brown as Old Timer, developed their per-
sonalities and blended them nicely. An air of
friendly cooperation pervaded at the dress re-
hearsal and continued to be reflected in the
relationships between the characters as the play
progressed, providing a well-integrated and sym-
pathetic atmosphere.
The set, designed by Gary Smith, was casual
and nicely constructed. Most notable were large
hanging panels, painted by Smith. Several paint-
ings by Susan Gratch added much to the atmos-
phere. And paintings by Ann Arbor artist John
Lockhart were also featured, created mainly for
use in this production.
Wine it the Wilderness will be running through
Sunday right at the Mendelssohn Theatre. It is
not a lorg production, but it is powerful; and
well-conttined, and certainly worth attending.

LYDIA SIMS and Ron Parson in a scene from the prizewinning
"Wine in the Wilderness," playing nightly through Sunday at the
Mendelssohn Theatre.
Records in Brief"

The royal Barrymores

",llE LEGEND has it," a
disgruntled actress once
orate, "that we artists are
wId, careless, touseled and im-
umrmal . . an organization of
i di s, chaotic, arty, self-con-
scaots, thinking theater, breath-
tug theater, smelling theater." .
That actress was Ethel Bar-
rynmore. The cause of her com-
plaint was The Royal Family,
a 1927 comedy which the U-M
Department of Theater will re-
vive next Wednesday through
Sunday at Power Center.
Nliss Barrymore believed that
the George S. Kaufman - Edna
Ferber play about the adven-
tures of a famous theatrical dy-
nasty was a thinly-veiled satire
of her own family, and even at-.
tempted to sue the authors for
Officially, however, Kaufman"
and Ferber denied having
drawn their acting family from
life. The "royal family Caven-
dish" was "an imginary one
that might be any family wed-
ded to the stage," asserts Miss
Ferber in her memoirs.
This explanation convinced
neither Ethel Barrymore nor
the playgoing public; the two
families resembled each other
too closely. It was obvious, -for
example, that The Royal Fami-F
ly's Tony Cavendish had been
modeled after Miss Barry-
more's flashy, temperamental
brother, John.
THE AUTHORS, after a time,
had to admit the debt they
owed to John Barrymore. "We
snly used bits of him, though,"
Ferber wrote. - "He was, of
COlrse, much too improbable to
copy from life"
"Improbable" is perhaps the

best one-word description of
John Barrymore's Richard III
and Hamlet caused many to
consider him the greatest actor
of his time, Barrymore never
allowed himself to play the
pompous role of Distinguished
Thespian. At the height of his
career he could be seen trav-
eling with - his pet monkey,
Clementine, clowning with
Charlie Chaplin, or drinking his
friends under the table.
Barrymore's temper was phe-
nomenal, especially when it
flared up during a perform-
ance. He would greet on-stage
late-comers with shouts of
"Where have you been?" or
"It's about time." More serious
offenders, such as coughers,
would be dealt with more stern-
play, for example, Barrymore
noticed with annoyance that a
certain scene was always greet-
ed with a chorus of restless
coughing from the audience. Af-
ter several nights of this, the
actor could stand it no longer.
When the coughing began one'
night, he produced a five-pound
seabass from beneath his cos-
tume and hurled it at the aston-

ished spectators, yelling, "Busy
yourselves with this, you dam-
ned walruses, while the rest of
us proceed with the libretto!"
Barrymore knew that his si-
ter was instigating libel action
against The Royal Family's au-
thors, but he could not be in-
duced to take the matter seri-
ously. Neither could his broth-
er, Lionel, who originated the'
role of Dr. Gillespie in early
Dr. Kildare films and so Ethel
reluctantly dropped the suit,
although it was five years be-
fore she would deign to speak
to either Kaufman or Ferber
This stubbornness was un-
warranted, for the Royal Fam-
ily is as sincere a valentine to.
the acting profession as two
playwrights ever composed. If
the Cavendishes are an eccen-
tric, flamboyant family, they
are also a family dedicated to
hard work and excellence in a.
.demanding profession. It is
therefore highly appropriate
that . the proceeds from next
week's production of The Royal
Family will go towards the
funding of acting and directing
scholarships in the University
Department of Theater.

FROM THE burgeoning New
York "punk" rock/pop ex-
plosion come Connecticut's Dir-
ty Angels with a debut LP en-
titled Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye.
The attractive and arty album
cover was' photographed by re-
knowned lensman Duane Mi-
chaels, and inside, the music
is equally well-crafted.g
The band has signed with Pri-
vate Stock Records, the same
company that put out Blondie's
debut disc, and uses their pro-
ucer, Richard Gottehrer, who
has scored heavily in the past
with AM hits like "Hang on
Sloopy" and "My Boyfriend's
Back." But Kiss Tomorrow
Goodbye lacks the charm and
sense of humor of the Blondie
band - this time around, the
pop approach, so effective in
Blondie creates more of the.
same mainstream material suit-
able for AM airplay.
MUSICALLY, the style is very
straightforward, the players are
obviously extremely proficiept.
Charlie Karp, lead vocals and
guitars, and David HulU bass,
keyboards, and vocals have an
impressive track record as side-
men with - Buddy Miles' band.
They have been playing profes-
sionally since their late teens.
The polished technical assets
prove to be the major flaw in
the album, there is simply too
much good taste. The result is
a slick collection of tunes which
cause no complaint, but ignite
little enthusiasm.
The Dirty Angels generally
miss with the banal mellow
songs on the first side - a
strong drum leads the beat
while the guitars churn out
familiar pop riffs, there is lit-
tle variation on the tried and
true mixture of 60s and 70s
pop.. As a result, the lack of
variety mars the individually
catchy tunes, and unlike The

Ramones, The Angels do not
have the same sound and flair
to get away with such continu-
ous repetition.
has more interesting and varied
numbers. "You Kot Me Run-
ning" is late 60s - influenced
with a hesitant guitar solo and
some hazy feedback. "Radio,"
a very listenable tune is the
single release with a bouncy
flip side "Tell Me," which
should sell if it doesn't become
buried beneath the similar 45s
being released for the summer.
Generally, the musicians seem
to have a potential for better
quality output, if the artists in-
volved are willing to take more
risks. Because they rely too
heavily on anonymous pop form-
ulas, there is little creative syn-
thesis of the rock and roll tra-
ditions they so obviously admire
and assimilate.
It seems that Dirty Angels
really do want to be let loose
from the confinements of their
constricting style, and as a re-
sult they may prove to be an
exciting live band. Their prior
experience with Buddy Miles
certainly suggests this.
But for the present, the vinyl
version of Dirty Angels plays
as fast, soft rock and roll -
not at all objectionable, but
hardly earth - shattering. They
could be lots of fun eventually,
but if they continue in the same,
overly-safe mold, they may nev-
er amount to much.
Have a flair for
artistic writinq?
It ysuare interest-
ed in reviewi)g
poetry, and musts
or at witin feture
sories sa out the
drama, dance, rm
arts: Contact Arts
Editor, c/o The
Michigan Oaily.

Hai'A Wld Weekend?
By DAVID KEEPS tor's typical bisneyesque hap-
For moviegoers, there's plea- py ending. The Ann Arbor film
ty happening this weekend: to co-op is presenting a Buster
night, there's Frank Capra's Keaton Night, as well as, for
You Can't Take it With You at those of you who feel up to
7:30 and 9:45 at the Old A & D facing two hours of screaming
building, boasting a young Italians, Wertmuller's Seven
Jimmy Stewart and the direc- See HAVIN', Page 6

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