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March 21, 1982 - Image 5

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1982-03-21

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ARTS
The Michigan Daily. Sunday, March 21, 1982 Page 5
The Acting Company does Shakespeare proud

B Elliott Jackson
W HAT A PITY that John Houseman's
Acting Company could not have
remained a few days longer in Ann Arbor!
Whether the Company, New York based and
consisting to a great degree of graduates from
the Juillard School of Acting, continued with
the same play or in repertory would have made
no difference: either prospect is delightful.
Certainly nowhere in Ann Arbor is one going to
find the incredibly smooth and polished
technique, coupled with the thoughtful and sen-
sitive appreciation of a play's subtleties, that
were shown in the Acting Company's March
19th production of Twelfth Night.
For those few-certainly it can be no more
than a few-who are unfamiliar with
Shakespeares' Twelfth Night, a brief run-down
of the plot may be in order. The Duke Orsino of
Illyria is languishing for the love of the Lady
Olivia, who has sworn that she will have none of
him, or any other man, at least until she has
completed her mourning for her brother.

At this point, a girl named Viola, who has
been shipwrecked on the coast of Illyria, and
believing her twin brother to be drowned, en-
ters the service of the Duke, disguised as a boy.
The Duke employs her to woo Olivia, in the
process of which Viola falls in love with her
master, and Olivia with Viola. Of course, the
twin brother eventually appears on the scene,
and confusion reigns over the latter part of the
play until brother and sister are reunited.
In addition there is a rich sub-plot, wherein
the steward of Olivia's household, one
Malvolio, is punished for his presumption and
general humorlessness by Olivia's uncle, Sir
Toby Belch, and several of Olivia's retainers.
Well and good, but Shakespearean comedy is
difficult to pull off under the best of circum-
stances, and seems well-nigh impossible to do
under any other. Given this understanding, the
Acting Company's production was remarkable
in that not only did the actors seem to know and
appreciate what their characters were saying,
but they managed to put their knowledge to
good use-for they pulled off that most difficult
of occurrences, the performance of a

Shakespearean comedy at which people
laughed, long, heartily, and consistently.
This is not to say that they always allowed
the text to get the laughs on its own, for the
Company knows its audience not wisely, but too
well. They seemed to think that in our narrow
20th century literal-mindedness, we would fail
to laugh at any of the more obscure or subtle
jokes unless they provided visual or aural aids
to our appreciation. Case in point: When
Maria, Olivia's maid-in-waiting, is introduced
to Sir Toby's dupe, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, and
embroils him in a game of suggestive entendre
which Andrew can't begin to understara, she
makes a fool of him without his being at all
aware of it.
Instead of allowing, or making, the audience
appreciate the humor of the situation itself, the
Company chose to have the actress playing
Maria turn back and laugh in Andrew's face,
thereby relieving the audience's tension and
causing us to laugh as well-but for the wrong
reasons. We laughed because Maria is telling
us Aguecheek is a fool, not because we see it for
ourselves. Whether or not the Company is to be

blamed for pandering to its audience all depen-
ds on whether )r not one believes as they do
that it's better to get any laugh than not get the
right one.
When it comes, however, to the subject of the
right kind of laughs, one must come to the sub-
ject of the handling of two of the principal
laugh-makers of the piece: namely, Sir Toby
Belch, and Feste the Clown. Unfortunately,
both seemed to suffer tremendously from
melancholia: one felt almost guilty seeing
these obviously suffering people called "oon to
mouth their respective hilarious lines.'
Sir Toby, who is Twelfth Night's Lord of,
Misrule, must be the very spirit of feckless
riotiousness and unabashed deviltry. TO have a
Toby so stricken with qualms about his
debauches and schemings is to have a play that
is stripped of much of its fun and high spirits.
Likewise, the Clown, Feste, should be en-
joying himself immensely as Olivia's "corrup-
ter of words." He is the only character who
never reveals his motives and desires to the
audience; who seer i , in fact, to have no reason
to enter the action save that he takes great

amusement from it. If he is not vastly and
visibly enjoying himself, then the audience
cannot enjoy themselves to the fullest extent
possible. The Cellar scene, during which Feste
comes to visit "Malvolio the Lunatic", is the
funniest scene in the play if handled correctly.
Unfortunately, Feste seemed so reluctant to
poke fun at madness in the properly
Elizabethan style that the audience spent most
of the time chuckling uncomfortably. The
Feste seemed much more of a victim, more of a
pathetic sort, than he should have; the Com-
pany seemed to forget that they had Malvolio to
act as the melancholic, victimized clown.
These are the sorts of problems that none but
the concerned critic and lover of Shakespeare
will catch, and if I note them here it is not to
knock the production or deny its good points,
but only to bewail mildly the fact that the Com-
pany did a good enough job for us to catch
glimpses of how extraordinarily entertaining a
well-thought-out production of a
Shakespearean comedy can really be.
_________7 9130
PBARGAIN MATINEES DAILY $2.50

Dancers radiate excitement at Concert

By Tan ia Blan ich
POWER CENTER came alive
Friday night, jolted into action by
an electric mix of dancing,
choreography and music. The Univer-
sity of Michigan Dance Company's
Spring Concert was greeted with ap-
preciation by a disappointingly small,
but enthusiastic, crowd. Each of the
four premier dances radiated ex-
citement and more crazy fun than Ann
Arbor audiences have seen for a while.
The Concert opened with Elizabeth
Weil Bergmann's Short Stuff. The
music, composed by Gregory Ballard
and performed by The Current And
Modern Consort, set pigtails and bodies
bouncing across the stage. Bergmann
perfectly captured the exuberant play
of children with this work.
Running about the stage, hopping,
skipping, leaping and swirling, the dan-
cers never once lost their childish ap-

peal. Nor did their perpetual and plen-
tiful play hide the fact that the dancing
was top-rate. The costumes, designed
by Nancy Jo Smith, were ideal. Their
playful yellows and oranges, as well as
the billowing fabric reflected the
movement and theme of the piece.
Guest artist Manuel Alum's piece,
Fresh Fruits in Foreign Places, sizzled
with a Latin flavor. Music by Kid
Creole and the Coconuts combined with
Alum's choreography to make this
pieceexciting and crazy. With hips
wriggling and shoulders shimmying,
the seven dancers, clad in bright,
outlandish costumes, created a mar-
velously energetic world.
Alum's choreography was wonder-
fully chaotic, propelling the dancers
about the stage to the wild salsa beat.
The dancers constantly interact, only
occasionally breaking away into a wild
solo. The dance is physically deman-
ding but the group held their own. The
dancers, technically capable, never-
rHEl
4.

theless lacked that certain maturity of
professionals. If the piece was this good
now, I'd love to see them perform it in a
few years: at that point, both the work
and the dancers should have attained
the ripeness needed.
The 88's was Vera L. Embree's
tribute to some of the giants of the
keyboard, such as Chick Corea and
Oscar Peterson. The series of mostly
amusing dance vignettes included a
tongue-in-cheek look at ballet, a spoof
of Fred and Ginger as well as an
emotional blues set. The dancers
moved nimbly, as did the fingers of the
pianists. In simple black and white
costumes, the dancers effectively ex-
pressed the thrills of the music to which
they moved.
The last piece of the evening, Rage
and Ruin, choreographed by Susan
Matheke, carried a powerful punch. It
was in many ways as "light" as the
preceeding works, however, with the
Current and Modern Consort blasting

another original score by Ballard and
given Matheke's forceful
choreography, the audience was mer-
merized.
Relying heavily on leaps and runs,
the piece pulsated with vigor. The
movements were harsh yet oddly fluid
as the dancers careened haphazardly
about the stage. The dancers moved
almost brutally at times, only to glide
on stage in slow-motion moments later.
The open stage effect was im-
pressive, the minimal set reinforcing
the punk flavor of the dance. The music
was every bit as excellent as the dan-
cing. While "Cateyes and Acid," the
piece accompanying Short Stuff was
fun and light, Rockit bombarded the
audience with stark power. As the dan-
ce ended, the audience sat silently, not
quite sure what had hit them. But en-
thusiastic applause soon followed.
The dance Company's Spring Concert
was a great success. The dancing was
strong, the choreography excellent.

Costumes were more innovative than
ever. And the use of live music for two
of the pieces was a wonderful change of
pace. One can only hope that the -com-
bined talent of Ballard and the Currant
and Modern Consort will again be
merged with the Dance Company.
The Dance Company deserves your
support. Their concert is special and
exciting, and full of good dancing. Don't
ignore the talent which will shine at
Power Center:today at 3 p.m.

. Riveting...I
Enthralling... 1:15
.y' CHARIOTS 4:00
OF FIRE 7:00
No $1 j :3
TUESPG 93

I

c1'"A great love story...
1:15 WARREN BEATTY
DIANE KEATON
8:30 Rt
A PARAMOUNT
®PICTURE;,

By Don Rubin
We've used the alphabet at the
bottom of this week's puzzle
to construct several linguini-
shaped words at the right
(linguini, of course, from the
Latin lingua, meaning
tongue). Anyway, we'd like
you to figure them out.
The letters are arranges
contiguously, in proper
sequence, like the links of a
chain.
You may fork over your
solutions on the lines below.

UZZLE
Figures of Speech

5.
S6.
7.
8.
9.
toV

J

WeP

C

'i

0I

12.

I

3

4

1.
2.-
3..

13..
13..
14..
15..

5 ii

61

LAST WEEK'S SOLUTION:
I found five more possible
solutions before I lost my zip.
Here they are:
C A K l
L~L. Li
E]IJ* [TJLIJf~

10

71

d9

1~=

-c
.rns.
U.

o
14 15a

i

wU lwl~1
LII [:J.

12

13

a-)

el

0.

ru
lvmsnt m

0

d 1981 United Feature Syndicate, Inc.

_ ...... rf, _ Y---l - ...:aL fL--- r . tt 119910( ?

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