Wed. esday, June 1, 1977
'ROYAL FAMILY' OPENS:
THE MICHIGAN DAILY
THE MICHIGAN DAILY Page FIve
By RICHARD LEWIS
p)EOPLE looking for a play about the
everyday problems of ordinary folks
should not look for it tonight at Power
Center, for Kaufman and Ferber's The
Royal Family will be opening there, and it
is a comedy which deals with a most ex-
traordinary race: actors.
The University Department of Theater
viil present this 1927 play through Sunday
afternoon. Its story centers around the es-
capades of a famous theatrical family nam-
ed Cavendish - a family which bears a
striking resemblince to the Barrymores.
DIRECTOR JACK McLAUGHLIN first
suested that the play be produced be-
cats e so many "naturals" were available
to perform in the key roles. "People have
accused me." said McLaughlin, "of type-
casting this play. Well, they're right."
In casting the role of Fanny, the indom-
itable matriarch of the Cavendish dynasty,
Mctaughlin's choice of Claribel Baird
seems particularly appropriate. Ms. Baird
has been a prominent figure in local thea-
ter since her arrival at the University in
the mid-thirties. After receiving her M. A.
from the Department of Theater in the
forties, she began a teaching career that
spanned nearly three decades.
AS AN ACTRESS, MS. BAIRD most re-
centi appeared in The Importance of Be-
in" Earnest, taking the role of Lady Brack-
nell. Her performance as the Grand
DuctBess Olga Katrina in the APA-Phoenix
production of You Can't Take It With You
earned her a Tony Award nomination.
When asked how she thought The Royal
Fs'mily might be received, Ms. Baird was
e'timistic. "You know, I was so afraid
the script would be dated," she confessed.
"But at the first read-through, the young
people in the cast were delighted."
"I sense, among the young, a revival of
interest in things past," the actress con-
tinued. "Especially now that the experi-
mental theater has stopped being experi-
Though now retired, Ms. Baird consent-
ed to appear in The Royal Family because
all proceeds from the production's ticket
sales witl be used to fund scholarships in
the theater arts. "It is urgent that the Uni-
persits rovide more scholarships in the
arts " she said. "Top people want to come
to Michigan, but we can't compete with
otrr schools financially,"
Both University and community talent
hsi been recruited for this benefit pro-
d'sc'ion Among others, the cast includes
Richard as Bert Cavendish, an aging
Shakespearean actor; Irene Connors as
Julie Cavendish, the darling of Broadway;
and Jlohn McCollum as the Cavendishes'
HOT TEMPERED movie idol Tony Cav-
endish will be played by the director him-
self. "Ideally, of course, I don't believe
in acting and directing simultaneously,"
McLaughlin said, "but if you're well-or-
gnnized it pays off."
The Royal Family has delighted audi-
ences for fifty years, most recently in
Ellis Rabb's acclaimed production at Lin-
coln Center. A plav this durable, perform-
ed by the distingnished cast Mr. McLaugh-
lin has assembled, should certainly be well
Performances are schediiled tonight
through Satirday at 9:00 p.m., and Sun-
dIi afternoon at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are
available at the Power Center box office,
For further information, call 763-3333.
Talking Heads' patter:
Paranoid pop platter
By DAVID KEEPS
1W~i YOIRK has hecopmne faint-
. s, of late, for spawning
scores of startling conceptual
rc k hands. And among them,
ntone is more burdensomely hi- - ..c-
zarre than Sire recording art-
ists, Talking Heads.
The Heads offer a peculiar x
brand of prettified pop psychosis.
on their debut single, "Love
Goes To A Building On Fire,"
w h i c h packs an enormously
catchy beat despite the simple
Onstage, they create a tableau
depicting the degeneration of ap-
parently sophisticated minds, as
lead vocalist David Byrne am-
ply illustrates in a never-ending ;
series of twitches and jerks.
Coupled with the implied and
impending insanity, T a 1k i n g
heads effectively ransack tra-
ditional pop melodics, replacing
conventional structures with in-
strumental innovations that are
both intriguing and occasionally
Martina Weymouth plays a
sulking and resonant electric
bass, while Byrne adds stoccato
acoustic g u i t a r chords that
sound like an electric organ in
the opening phrases of "Lover
Goes . . ." Drummer Chris
Frantz's restrained hyperactiv-
ity on drums adds the needed
punch, while a rousing horn sec-
tion adds backbone to Byrne's
brittle, near-falsetto delivery.
The flip side, with far less
commercial appeal, comes clos- NOT your everyday art student turned rock
er, perhaps, to the Heads' true
musical direction - highlighted star, head 'Head' David Byrne, a RISD grad,
by a stark rhytm track and ob- brings a dazed, Tony Perkins-styled delivery
scurely schizophrenic 1 y r i c s, into the fray of this trio's Intriguing and en-
"New Feeling" amply justifies gaging musical selections, which includes a
the contention that psychosis is. debut single, "Love Goes To A Building On
an art form on the move. Fire," on Sire,
The cast of The Royal Family which opens this evening at Power Center.
Curtain time is 8 p.m
'islands' s*inIks midstreamn
By GERARD PAPE
Islands in the Stream, based on Hem-
ingway's novel, suffers from being too
faithful to its source. The film, playing
at the Michigan theater, deals with a
potentially interesting subject, but the
uninteresting treatment leads only to a
The potentially interesting subject is
the midlife crisis of the main character
Tom, artfully played by George C. Scott.
Tom, an aging Hemingwayesque artist,
is in the very throes of deciding whether
he will become an isolated, emasculat-
ed artist, or accept his larger responsi-
bilities as a human.
The problem of the aging artist was of
central importance in Hemingway's life.,
Hemingway, always torn between the
more active life of the soldier and hunt-
er versus the more sedentary life of
the artist, always had his characters
die in a heroic fashion but he commit-
ted suicide rather than face the paraly-
sis of old age.
UNFORTUNATELY, the movie does
not do justice to the difficulty of such a
struggle. No sooner is Tom in his crisis
than the crisis begins to be resolved.
Tom was going to send his vOsiting
children away; he hasn't seen them in
four years. He was going to cut his
beard, thus symbolically emasculating
himself. He changes his mind; Tom
hears the sound of the plane that is
landing his children and does not shave.
He does not isolate himself from his
children as he had planned.
TOM'S LIFE CRISIS has mostly
passed before a quarter of the film
does. From this point on, we see Tom,
the good, loving, understanding father,
and Tom, the hero who loses his life
in rescuing persecuted war refugees.
The only remnants of Tom, the man
in crisis, are some regrets. Tom, Jr., the
oldest son, is predictably, killed in
World War II just after Tom Sr. has
just gotten to know -and appreciate him.
Tom's first wife, the only woman he
really loved and foolishly lost, comes to
visit, not to reconciliate but to bring
news of Tom jr.'s death and of her mar-
riage to a military man.
The most disappointing feature of the
film is that Tom does not have to live
with his regrets as might realistically be
expected. Instead, in melodramatic
fashion, he dies heroically after success-
fully helping the refugees escape.
This film's-treatment of life crisis is
too easy, too uninformative; and un-
fortunately and unavoidably the solu-
tion is too Hemingwayesque. In being
true to Hemingway's cop out "heroic"'
death ending, cheap sentimentality
reigns aupreme and re=l problems are