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September 20, 1980 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1980-09-20

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Mormons host area
conference here today

The Michigan Daily

Saturday, September 20, 1980

Page 5

An uneven


Years ago I casually sat down to
listen to a cast recording of Edward
Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia
oolf?, and I've never felt the same
J nce. The playwright's all-embracing,
all-consuming rite of marital discontent
at a small New England college carries.
the harrowing emotional totality of a
dozen major epics-by turns hilarious,
tormented, sardonically sadistic,
achingly gentle. Premiered nearly
twenty years ago, Albee's living room
talkathon endures as quite simply the
greatest American play ever written. It
is a work bf genius which set the
stylfstic mode for dozens of inferior
tream-of-reality imitations, yet which
ike all great works has itself defied
both time and social obsolescence.
It may be true that Albee penned
Virginia Woolf as a kind of self-
exorcism rite and, once his demons
were exhumed, he found he had nothing
else to say. Yet the fact that virtually
all of Allbee's subsequent efforts drown
in a sea of baroque irrelevancies does
nothing to dim the blazing pureness of
is one incredible work. Taken alone,
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf would
insure an immortality that the com-
bined efforts of a thousand lesser ar-
tists would fail to match.
SUCCESSFULLY staging this play
can be a foreboding challenge, in its
own way as difficult .as attempting
Hamlet or Lear. Virginia Woolf's four
characters require the most delicate in-
terplay. There's George and Mar-
tha-he is by turns witty, mournful,
sadistic, self-loathing; she is bawdy,
*gressive, swinishly strident, yet
achingly perceptive. In (essence, it's a
rapier vs. a sledgehammer,'
allegorically the uneasy but necessary
alliance between the American intellec-
tual and mercantile classes. There's
also Nick and Honey-he is young, am--
bitjous, scientifically brilliant but
aesthetically indifferent, the symbol of
technological Utopian impersonality;
Sle is a cowering child-woman, a per-
onification of all the cringing born-
victims in our universe.
This sad quartet shreds respective
souls before us during the course of a
midnight-to-dawn liquor-ridden battle
of its in George and Martha's campus

Johanna Dickey (Honey), William J. Cross (George), Mary Lou Blanchard
(Martha) and James Danek (Nick) during a rare moment of relative peace
in the Canterbury Loft's production of Edward Albee's 'Who's Afraid of
Virginia Woolf?' The characters launch their night-long verbal assault on
each other in the living room of George and Martha's New England, college-
town abode. The Loft's staging runs this weekend and next, through next
Saturday, at 8:00 p.m.

equipped for the heavyweight give-and-
take that eternally rules George and
Martha's marriage.
THERE'S NO sting to Blanchard's
verbal venom, no fire to her nocturnal
savagery. Her voice is often plaintively
weak, her dramatic rhythm consisten-
tly off.
The Canterbury production is thus
thrown into structural and thematic
chaos.wAbove all else George and Mar-
tha must be euqal combatants-mat-
ching strength and cunning blow-for-
blow, with Martha if anything the more
aggressive, masculine of the two. Yet
Cross's omnipotent performance so
thoroughly overwhelms Blanchard that
their epic battle turns into a walkover.
The actress' efforts are so limited that
George's inbred bitterness seems
almost psychotic by comparison-their
struggle is thus effectively mutated into
a wife-beating atrocity, with George as
the raging bully and Martha the feeble
The imbalance largely negates the ef-
fectiveness of the two lesser roles. As
Nick, James Danek tends toward a
rather strident, one-note delivery,
largely impervious to Nick's gradual
drunken metamorphosis into a melan-
choly sensitivity to those about him.
Johanna Dickey gives a fine, resonant
performance as Honey, though she ten-
ds, as do most interpreters of the role,
to emphasize the comic aspects of her
character at the expense of the tragic
Sharpe's direction of the play is
suitably reverent and unfrilly-to his
credit, nothing has been cut from the
show, as is common in other produc-
tions. The living room set is suitably
condensed, though rather surprisingly
the naturally claustrophobic nature of
the show doesn't really seem attuned to
the cramped quarters of the Canter-
bury Loft.
There's really very little to complain
about with this presentation save for
the one flaw that leaves everything to
complain about. It certainly wasn't the
easiest assignment to begin with-Mar-
tha is surely one of the greatest, most
difficult roles in the English language
theater. There aren't that many great
Hamlets around either, yet one can
always hope.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter
Day Saints (Mormons) is having an
area conference in Ann Arbor this
weekend to "help build the church and
hear the messages of God," a
spokesman said.
Vernon Cooley, president of the
Michigan-Dearborn mission, said there
will be approximately 865 missionaries
from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and
Michigan at the conference. The total
number attending, including
missionaries, area-followers, and the
general public will be around 14,000, he
THE HIGHLIGHT OF the conference
will be tomorrow when Mormon
President and Prophet Leader, Spencer
Kimball, will speak at Chrysler Arena.
He is scheduled to appear to 10 a.m. and
2 p.m.
The conference will begin at 10 a.m.

dmppp- Mh==NAhl

, M I.B 4

this morning, with a meeting of all
In prptest of the traditional Mormon
anti-ERA stand, there will be a rally for
the Eqqal Rights Amendment held out-
side the Mormon Conference at 3 p.m.
Sponsoring the rally is the National
Organization for Women, Mormons for
E.R.A., and Students for E.R.A.
THERE WILL be a priesthood
session at 7 p.m. tonight. The
priesthood session includes all 12-year
old males and older, who have been
voted and approved into the leadership.
"These men are not the hippie type at
all-they've been well chosen and live
the gospel of Jesus Christ to the fulles,"
Cooley said.
This may be the last area conference,
he added, because improved satellite
communication allows them to com-"
municate yearly meetings from Salt
Lake City, Utah.

home. Their elongated wordplay rakes
on the intricateness of a contrapunal
oratorio as thunderbolts of verbal dam-
nation are hurled back and forth on
stage; as such anything less than an
ideally balanced cast of actors can
throw Albee's nimble .work into a
disastrous wobble.
And that is precisely the problem
with the Canterbury Stage Company's
current production of Virginia Woolf.
Director William Sharpe's treatment is
generally sensitive and well-staged, yet
is thrown irreparably out of kilter by a
grotesque thespian mismatch in the two
lead roles.
AS GEORGE, William J. Cross is a
human dynamo, a lightning rod actor
throbbingly possessed by his character.
The man is a joy to watch and hear;
though his eloqution may smack a bit
too 'much of the classical repertoire,
Cross gloriously brings his
protagonists' character as George
slides with bitter drollery toward the

middle age of his wrenching but
necessary partnership with Martha.
Cross acclimates himself perfectly to
the musical beat and pace of George's
laser delivery. Though he's really too
physical, powerful, and largeLframed
an actor anatomically embody his
tweedy, burned-out protagonist, these
shortcomings are totally obliterated in
this whirling dervish of a performance.
Would that Mary Lou Blanchard's
Martha was even remotely equal to
Cross' powerhouse assault; alas she
resides on a thespian plane entirely at
odds with what is required to bring the
author's diabolical battle royal to life
Albee's Marthe must be belligerent,
pugnacious, a predatory killer-Blan-
chard's Martha would be mortified if
she accidently stepped on an ant.
Though she isn't a bad actress, Blan-
chard projects a haughty, remote
quality much in the mold of Jessica
Tandy: she's an elegant, muted, nice-
grandmother type ruinously ill-

ked on the VLADIMI NAROKOV Novel " Screnptoy by TOM STOPARD
Directed by RAINiR WERNER PAINDER Prom Now Line Cknmo

Tax forum crowd hostile to absent Tisch

(Continued from Page 1)
in state revenues. If this plan is adop-
*ed, the legislature would depide how to
make up for lost property taxes.
Proposal C, the plan supported by
Staebler, and many other state leaders,
would cut property taxes and raise the
state income tax from 4 percent to 5.5
percent. This plan -is an attempt to
make Proposal D less attractive.
would be the only chance for voters to
actually vote for a tax cut rather than a
*ax shift. Analysts statewide estiniate
that, if adopted, Proposal D would
decrease state revenues by about $2
billion. The state government would be
forced to make up for the tax loss by
reducing services such as higher
education. That threat has the Univer-
sity-and other institutions that depend

on state funds-busy making sure
voters know about what might happen
under such a tax reduction.
That's one of the reasons Thursday,
night's tax forum was held: to tell
voters how Tisch, and the other
proposed changes in Michigan's tax
laws, would alter the way citizens pay
taxes and receive government services.
voting "strategies" that would defeat
the Tisch plan, or at least lessen its im-
pact if the tax cut received a majority

of "yes" votes.
All three tax plans could pass. If that
is the case, Bullard explained, the
referendum with the most "yes" votes
would become law. Portions of the
other plans that don't conflict with the
first measure would also be adopted.
For example, if Proposal D received
1,000 "yes" votes and 600 "no" votes it
would become part of the state con-
stitution. If Proposals A and C each
received 1,000 "yes" votes but more
than 600 "no" votes, only portions of

those plans would be adopted. The
decision about which provisions would
stay would rest with the courts.
But the man who asked if his votes for
"A" or "C" would help defeat "D"
didn't get an answer.
While there was mild disagreement
between panelists-who wouldn't mind
votes for their own tax reform
plans-and audience members, they all
agreed with Bullard who said: "Voting
'no' on (Proposal) D must be the
foremost thing to keep in mind."

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