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June 03, 1977 - Image 5

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Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1977-06-03

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Friday, June 3, 1977 ItHE MICHIGAN DAILY lage Five
'1,000 Clowns' lunges for laughs

4

IArts

I1

F

By SUSAN BARRY
A Thosand Clowns by Herb Gardner, as
mounted by the MM Rep Co., explores a few
days in the life of Murray Burns, a middle-aged
children's TV script writer, who is forced to evalu-
ate his existence when faced with the prospect
of losing custody of his nephew.
The 12-year-old nephew has been abandoned
to him by his sister, and when the school board
psychologist and social worker investigate the
child's environment they decide that Burns, at
the time unemployed, is not a suitable guardian.
Ths Burns is given the choice to ignore his
principles and return to work or to lose the child,
with whom he has formed a warm and mutually
convenient friendship.
So far, so good. From here, however, Gard-
ner launches some rather pointlessly meandering
philosophy and silly dialogue that seems to go
in all directions at once and still ends up no-
where.
"Out of th-)e mouths of babes," declares Burns,
the anti-intellectual, "comes drooling." "People
fall into two categories," he philosophizes, "those
who like deli-atessen and those who don't like
delicatessen."
GARDNER IS EVIDENTLY trying to make a
point. But it is difficult to determine whether
he is with Burns or against him. Burns attempts
to cut through the phony defenses of his family
and friends, but when anyone attempts to pene-
trate his arrogant wall of indifference he starts
chattering like his kiddie show chipmunk.
Thomas Badgerow as Burns keeps his distance
from the rest of the cast as he slides his voice
up into his exclamations, producing an unnatural-
ly showman-like tone. Burns is not for a 'mo-
ment real, whether Badgerow attempted to make
him so or not. When he ultimately abandons his
carefully set tip ideals rather impulsively, any
serious attempt to extract a philosophical state-
ment seems pointless. He merely seems like a

man desperatety out of step with his environ-
ment who holds out for a while but ultimately
is forced to join the society he condemns.
"WE'RE ALL LIKE THAT," implies Gard-
ner. From the psychologist who bores himself
to the sociologist who becomes too involved with
her cases to be efficient, to the kiddie show
comedian who hates kids, to the brother/execu-
tive who "takes crap from everybody" but suc-
ceeds,. we are a society of a thousand clowns,
all maladjusted, all inefficient until we put on
the necessary grease paint - the phony mask
of conformability.
The original conception otf bis play is inter-
esting, it is in its execution that it fails to in-
spire. Murray's grandiose attempts to be clever
usually fall flat. The burlesque between the psy-
chologist (Calvin MacLean) and the sociologist
(Susan Perkoff) is cliche. Ultimately this play
falls back on its charm, and here it shines through
the fog in several instances.
KEN NORMAN as the nephew of interchange-
able names takes an enthusiastic grip on his
role and hangs on, His performance is remark-
able in the sheer face if its mastery by such
a young arist. David Grier is perfectly hyper as
Leo. And David Green as the brother who ap-
proaches life as a series of gestures, such as
bringing Murray a box of fresh fruit daily, pre-
sents a compelling portrait of a man who de-
serves t-o patronize but struggles heroically
against the impulse.
In particular moments Murray's irony is posi-
tively illuminating. When Badgerow describes
how he walked home apologizing to everyone he
net, eliciting strange clemency from each sub-
ject, he is at his best. "That's all you can really
expect from life," he tells Sandy, the sociologist,
"a pretty good apology for everything you don't
get."
Murray never gets any apologies, but it is
clear that he is going to survive anyway, as
everyone does.

C.omeaCi cf ncn
Thomas Baderow and Susan Perkoff come to grips in the
MM production of A Thousand Clowns, running nightly through
Sunday in the Mendelssohn Theatre.
Havin' A Wild Weekend?.
By DAVID KEEPS Hall, with a midnight cham-
Sam Peckinpah's WW II ad- pagne supper and dancing on
venture, Cross of Iron, opens stage afterwards. Miss Rogers
tonight at the Michigan Theatre, wilt not perform Monday eve-
while Mohammed Ali takes a ning, but Saturday and Sunday
shot at acting in a self-congratu- matinees are scheduled for 2
latory autobioflick, The Greatest p.m. Ticket information can
at the State. be obtained by calling 963-
At the co-ops tonight: Robert 7680.
de Niro burns up the screen as
sheenishly schizophrenic Travis
Bickle in Scorcese's Taxi Driver
(MLB 3, 7 & 9). Janet Leigh gets
knifed in Psycho and Jeanne f
Moreau becomes Frantic in
Louis Malle's directorial debut ,
of the same name (MLB 4, com- ::
plete shows at 7 & 1:4) D
Niro also stars in Brian (Obses.
sion) De Palma's Hi Mom!
(Atud. A, 7:30 & 9:30). Cinema
Guild presents Superfly with
Ron O'Neal at 7:30 & 9:30, Arch.
Aud.
Saturday's offerings' include
Losey's The Romantic English- Rers
woman (Aud. A, 7:30 & 9:30)
and Bergman's overrated Cries THE JONGLEURS (pictured
and Whispers (Arch, Aud., 7:30 TH J.GEUS(icue
& 9:30). at right) have been performing
Sunday night Cinemp Guild's Medieval and Renaissance mu-
free classic film screening fe - sic in the area since 1974, -and
ttres Things To Come, one of this Saturday, they present a
the meet enduring and technical- concert of music from Germany
ly exciting science fiction films and the Low Lands. The concert
in cinetna history (Arch..And. begins at 8 in the University
in pimReformed Church (1001 E. Hu-
Harmonica ron). Admission for students and
NIGHTCLUBBIN':Hamnc senior citizens is $250,
virtuoso Peter 'Madcat' Ruth
appear sat the Ark, Duke Tu-
mato and The All Star Frogs at
Mr. Flood's, Blaze scorches Sec-
ond Chance patrons, Rainbow
Bridge rocks at the Roadhouse,
and at the Blind Pig, the 251
Orchestra performs big band
tunes.
Former RKO movie queen
Ginger Rogers displays the
vivacity and talent that have-
contributed to her enduring
popularity in her one woman
show opening tonight at the
Music Hall and r u nn i n g
through June 9. Ginger's first
nighter is to be mounted as a
gala benefit for the Music

Royal
By RICHARD LEWIS ,
The University Department of
Theater is currently offering a
vdry fine production of The
Royal Family at Power Cen-
ter. What a shame that so few
members of this supposedly
theater - loving community
were on hand to view its open-
ing performance Wednesday
night.
The production, which runs
through Sunday afternoon, owes
a great deal of its success to
George S. Kaufman and Edna
Ferber's bright, well-crafted
script. The Royal Family is a
skillful combination of broad
farce and dry wit, peppered
with snappy exits, entrances
and curtain lines. Unlike much
modern theater, in which
"craftsmanship" is a dirty
word, this 1927 comedy is a joy
to watch.
Its story revolves around the
private lives of an ostensibly
fictional acting family named
Cavendish. Like the Barry-
mores, the Cavendishes are

Family' amuses

pillars of the American stage,
with a noble historic tradition
to uphold. The fireworks begin
when outsiders attempt to lure
members of the family away
from the stage.
AS FANNY, septuagenarian
head of the Cavendish house-
hold, Claribel Baird is delight-
ftl. She walks with the aid of
a cane (or is it a scepter?),
but there is a no-nonsense firm-
ness about that walk.
"I'll be a stepping stone for
nobody!" Fanny snaps at one
point, and we are quite pre-
pared to believe her. Ma, Baird
conveys dignity without pompos-
ity, old age without fustiness,
and a quick wit ready to take
on the world,
Fanny's brother, Bert Dean,
is admirably played byy Rich-
ard Burgwin. Bert is an aging
Shakespearean actor who, as
his sister puts it, "has retired
and doesn't know it," and Burg-
. win's portrayal is full of appro-
priate swagger, bluster and
bluff.
Bert is married to a mediocre
actress named Ritty LeMoyne,
who is so tired of having "the
royal family Cavendished up"
to her she could spit. This role
has been entrusted to Judy
Manos, who is often very fun-
ny. At other times, though, Ms.
Manos appears to be trying too
hard, with the result that some
of her exquisitely catty remarks
become merely ill - tempered
bitchery.
IRENE CONNORS shines in
the role of Julie, Fanny's
daughter, capturing flawlessly
the predicament of a woman

who is forced to be caretaker
of "a family of maniacs" and
the greatest actress of her time
simultaneously. Her daughter,
Gwen, is nicely played by Dana
Barton.
John Wojda plays the role of
Perry Stewart, a rather color-
less young businessman, with-
out much interest, although the
role offers him little to sink
his teeth into. John McCollum
is outstanding as the Caven-
dishes' producer, Oscar Wolfe,
from the first tip of his hat to
the last flick of his cigar ash.
Julie's millionaire suitor, Gil
Marhall,Lis stylishly portrayed
by Joe Lauck. And Tony Cay-
endish, the family's lovable
black sheep, is interpreted as a
spoiled child of thirty by Jack
McLaughlin, who also directs
the production.
Although Diane Tasca por-
trays the Cavendishes' some-
what harried maid with an
abrasiveness that is extremely
unattractive, the other roles
are well served by Charlie Su-
therland, Leo McNamara, John
McCarthy, John Frank, Mike
Wallace, Kay Long, and Henry
van Kuiken.
The single set - the living
room of the Cavendish apart-
ment - is the mignificent work
of Alan Billings, who also de-
signed the lighting and Moppy
Vogely's period costumes are
very beautiful, too.
Join the Daily
Arts Department
Contact: Arts Editor
420 Maynard St.

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