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October 08, 1982 - Image 20

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The Michigan Daily, 1982-10-08
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Get
bent

By Michael Huget
'Bent'
Canterbury Loft
October 8-10, 15-17 at 8 p.m.
B Y VIRTUE of its themes-
homosexual persecution and
moral depravity in Nazi Germany-
Martin Sherman's Bent is a compelling
play. It's hard not to be moved as the
characters battle for their very
existence against the macabre rule of
Hitler's SS.
But while Sherman should be ap-
plauded for dealing with such
challenging and controversial themes,
the manner in which he does so disap-
points. The drama of the plot bogs down
in many places, especially the first half
of the second act, and Sherman's two-
dimensional dialogue does little to
sustain the intensity achieved at the
close of the first act.
The cast of W5 Productions' first ef-
fort fortunately manages to transcend,
for the most part, these basic flaws in
the play and offers a stunning inter-
pretation of what should have been a
major play of the 1970s.
The play opens in a seedy Berlin
apartment in 1934-the year Ernst
Rohm and colleagues staged their
homosexual headhunt. Max (Alan
Stewart) and his lover Rudy (Barry
Shulak), a nightclub dancer, are forced
to flee Berlin.
They remain on the run, avoiding the
SS while seeking a way out of Germany,'
until they are eventually caught and
sent to the Dachau concentration camp.

is created basically by situational
drama; the kind in which the actors are
merely required to propel the plot
along, with the playwright providing
most of the tear-jerking, gut-wrenching
moments. This is not to say, however,
that good performances are not
required. While Stewart brings to Max
all the rational control necessary, Rudy
is rather insensate and pouty, which
prevents, until the end of the fourth
scene, the two from ever developing a
believable relationship. Our tears are
not for Rudy when he dies in the next
scene, rather for Max, who is convin-
cingly pained by the whole incident.
In the second act, however, the
responsibility for sustaining interest in
the play falls on the actors, Steward
and Foote. Here, after establishing the
hideousness of homosexual per-
secution, is where Sherman could have
made Bent a useful, provocative ex-
ploration of the Nazi's moral
degeneration. Instead the play mean-
ders, saved only by Stewart and Foote's
ability to convey the hopelessness and
the injustice of their situation. Together
they effectively interact, adjusting to
the other's personality: Stewart's con-
centration camp naivete contrasts with
Foote's experienced acceptance of his
plight and subsequent withdrawal from
it. The mixing of the two forces each to
make a more realistic assessment of
3 the camp.
Randy Mercer also deserves mention
3 for his powerful portrayal of an SS of-
ficer. Sherman uses the officer role to
exemplify the sadism and the pet-
tiness of relatively insignificant people
who get a little power, and Mercer
definitely maximizes the role's poten-
tial.
W5 Productions shows much promise
with its first production. Directors Matt
Tomlanovich and Anne M. Stoll used
the Canterbury Loft's limited space
well and, overall, the performances
were sound. Bent continues tonight
through Sunday, and again next
weekend.

Royal
fare

By Ben Ticho
Raja Rani
400 S. Division
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-1:30
p.m., 5:30-9:30 p.m.
AJA RANI means "King and
Queen" in Indian, but you don't
have to be a member of the monarchy
to receive royal treatment at this
distinguished Eastern restaurant. Step
inside the spacious .multi-room
establishment, amidst oriental rugs
and religious ornaments, hanging plan-
ts and antique-style brass lamps, and
you have entered a culinary and at-
mospheric richness virtually unique in
Ann Arbor.
At the door, you're greeted-by one of
several sari-ed attendants, perhaps
Harjap Chahal, the soft-spoken dining
room manager, and led, if you're lucky,
to the Verandah Room, which looks
quietly out onto the William and
Division intersection. The menu
arrives, and a difficult decision-making
process begins.
One of the city's true motif eating
places, Raja Rani makes only oc-
casional concessions to American food
conventions, retaining Indian names,
spices, and diverse offerings from Tan-
doori chicken (marinated in yogurt) to
Keema Paratha (Indian bread stuffed
with meat). The uninitiated (and
otherwise) are advised to bring com-
pany, so that a wider selection of
authentic cooking may be sampled.
There are many vegetarian entrees,
including Malai Kofta (a vegetable
kebab) and Chana Masaladar (a chick
peas offering), as well as main courses
of chicken, lamb, and beef. The Rogan
Josh lamb and Tandoori Chicken
Masala were recommended and prom-

ptly sampled; like most Indian fare,
these dishes both featured distinctive
spices and sauces. The lamb swims in a
bath of tomato-curry mix (so I sur-
mised; the exact and numerous
ingredients do not travel beyond the
kitchen), while the chicken-well, the
sauce contained plenty of curry and
sported an incredibly orange color, but
beyond that, all I can say is that the
taste was excellent. The chicken itself
appeared slightly mangled, my only
reservation, but was thankfully moist
and cooked perfectly.
Another suggestion: unless you
possess an abnormal metabolism, ask
your waitress for a pitcher of that
essential ingredient, water. Patrons
can choose from three levels of
spicing-mild, medium, and Indian
hot-but all necessitate heavy liquids,
and Indians don't drink beer.
Ann Arbor veterans will perhaps
recall that until recently, Raja Rani
was located on Huron Street, at the
present sity of the Kana Restaurant.
Owner Loveleen Bajwa founded Raja
Rani in 1976 using only Indian chefs, a
practice continued today. The move to
the current house on South Division
(former home of the Charisma beauty
salon) was prompted by a desire for an
enlarged floor space as well as the at-
tractive location. Extensive
remodeling produced a very inviting
white structure, surrounded by an at-
tractive garden of herbs and flowers.
The attention to detail is evident
everywhere, in the many wall
hangings, in the expert exploitation of
natural lighting, making Raja Rani
immediately a comfortable place to
spend a dinner-or a lunch.
Authenticity, often a weak point in
ethnic or cultural restaurants, has
secured a firm place here. Chahal
arrived in this country from India in
1976 and began her association with
Raja 'Rani the following year. She
professes to "love her job," and the at-
tention she pays it becomes evident in
calm, courteous service from start to
finish.
Which brings us to a final con-
sideration-pricing. Persons on a
moderate budget won't make the trip to

'Bent': Stark Drama

As they ride the train to Dachau, the
sadistic guards of the SS subject Rudy
to incredible torture and finally force
Max to beat him to death. Immediately
afterward, Max must prove he is not a
queer by performing necrophilic acts
(offstage). For if he were queer, he
would have to wear the pink triangle
relegating him to camp's lowest social
level instead of the yellow star worn by
.all the Jews.
The action of the second act is con-

fined exclusively to a work area in the
concentration camp. Max and Horst
(Jeff Foote), another homosexual
whom Max met on the train, have the
responsibility of moving rocks back and
forth between two pallets for twelve
hours a day. The two characters,
despite every rule and attitude preven-
ting it, develop a relationship-a
relationship not so much for fulfillment,
but for mere survival.
The action and tension of the first act

Raja Rani: Food fit for a king
Raja Rani every week, but an oc-
casional evening of enjoyment for two
or more certainly can be justified. A
dinner for yourself and a guest runs a
total of around $25, including appetizer
(the Chicken Chaat, flavored with
banana and chutney, received high
recommendation), main entree, dessert
and after-dinner spice tea (a beautiful

aroma). Both
dian rice puddi
provide excell
meal.
Overall, Rajz
bor's most app
sider when yc
something difff
dable, and even

Born
again

says. This is in reference to Billie's
living arrangement with Harry Brock.
The ex-chorus girl sees Harry, a double-
dealing junkman, as her ticket out of
the doldrums of ignorance. "All she
needs is a background to be able to pur-
sue her dreams," Lehane observes.
Kanin once said the play is about "the
failure to recognize women as equal
citizens." The play could be construed,
however, as degrading to women: Billie
is "kept" by a man, and her lack of in-
telligence is obvious. Lehane views this
interpretation as totally opposite. In
fact,he sees it as celebrating the
liberation of women. "Billie has the
courage to try and liberate her-

"education can move us out of class.. .
that enlightenment and courage means
-we have the ability to change our-
selves."
In Born Yesterday it's Billie Dawn
who changes herself. That is what
Lehane believes is- the "1982 sen-
sibility" he has brought to the
Professional Theater Program's ver-
sion of this play."It's such an optimistic
play. Anything can happen, that's what
I enjoy about it," Lehane reveals.
Gregory Lehane is a teacher and per-
former, as well as a director. As Ar-
tistic Director of the Carnegie-Mellon
Institute in Pittsburgh, herdirected such
productions as Arthur Miller's The

By Susan Makuch
'Born Yesterday'
Lydia Mendelssohn Theater
Regular Run: October 8-10, 14-16 at
8 p.m. Matinee October 17 at 2 p.m.
IR'S NOT OFTEN that a comedy
survives the ages. Director Gregory
Lehane, however, feels Borg Yester-
day-written in 1947-holds up just fine.
"It would be a disaster to update this
post-World War II comedy," he warns.
The Professional Theatre Program's,
version of the play opens October 8 at
the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre.
Garson Kanin's Born Yesterday is a
comedy about a woman's struggle to
educate herself in a man's world. Billie
Dawn is "already a modern

bluntly that "television isn't bad-it's a
powerful and pervasive medium, but
it's not used to the extent that it could
be." He cites PBS's "Great Perfor-
mances" and "American Short Story"
series as "pure classics." I'd even-
tually like to do a production along
those lines," he says.
- One such production he feels could be
well-suited to the television audience is
Born Yesterday. "It's time for Born
Yesterday to go back to television."
Lehane suggests, alluding to the small
screen version Mary Martin did in the
1950s. "The material is so classic that
it's appealing not only to me as a direc-
tor, but to the audience as a light-
hearted comedy," he adds.
Although this is his first time as a
director of the PTP, Lehane hopes it
won't be his last. "Coming back to
regional theater is great, it's like going
back to the source, where it all starts,"
'he says..
He sealso has high praise for the.
Theater itself. "I've had nothing but a
good response from everybody here,"
he says enthusiastically. "The time we
have to rehearse is superb (three
weeks)-it's unheard of in regional
theater to get so much time," he ex-
plains. "I've had such a good experien-
ce here at the PTP, I'd almost venture
to say it's not really like work-but

arid after-dinner spice tea (a beautiful

'The material is so classic that it's appealing not
only to me as a director, but to the audience as a
lighthearted comedy.'
-Gregory Lehane, director

Stella'
from 3
gallery very effectively. Most of the
series are hung together, so that his ex-
perimentation within a particular con-
cept can be viewed, such as his
fascinating "Exotic Birds" series of
1977 in which the undulating spirals
seem almost to lead into one another
from print to print. He has separated
other prints from each other such as his
Pastel Stack from his "Stacks" series
of 1971. This print is set in a niche by it-
self which accentuates its peaceful and
harmonious tone.
Stella is "a brilliant colorist" who is
strongly influenced by artists such as
Henri Matisse. Both Matisse and Stella
allow color to speak for itself in their
works. Both artists use color to dictate
the structure and rhythms of their work
rather than relegating it to simply a
decorative or descriptive role. In his
prints, Stella uses overlaps of color to
create texture and an illusion of depth.
Stella's prints are rather
paradoxical. His constant changes. in

- . t::

L101

5 ~.,.--,,.. _, ,_,..,

Stella: 83 prints from 1967-82

self-and remember, the character was
written in 1947," he explains.
"I had two considerations when
deciding how to approach this play.
First of all, I had to capture the flavor
of the period-that post-war look and
feel. I also had to realize how women
can be liberated through education, and
approach Billie's character with that in

Price, and Moliere's The Miser. He also
served as Assistant Professor of
Drama, teaching both acting and direc-
ting.
Although his background is definitely
theatrical, of late Lehane has been in-
volved primarily in -television. He
recently acted and directed in two NBC
soap operas. "Search for Tomorrow"

texture, technique, color, and design
have a rather disorienting effect. Con-
versely, his works are obviously very
ordered, intellectual pieces.
Ultimately, Stella's is an art which is a
disorder understood through order.
Plan on spending a good hour at the
exhibit to study thoroughly these
works. Also, don't let the intriguing
titles escape your notice. His titles often
further illuminate his work. For exam-
plehis "Polar -Co-ordinates".series-.of.

1970 is dedicated to Ronnie Peterson
who was a friend of Stella's killed in a
racing car accident. The outward spin-
ning force of the series is undoubtedly
symbolic of his frends profession and
tragic death.
Unfortunately, the complete
catalogue raisonne, entitled Frank
Stella: Prints 1967-1982, will not be
available until January, after the
exhibit has been here and gone.
- a everr thereis a. small handbook o

the exhibition
formative artic
a checklist of ti
of printmaking
available at th(
dollar and is h
and fully appre
This exhibit i
look at one of th
of our time. It i
it premiere at th
not be missed:
9 Wee]

MQw~v.er,. there.is a aruall handbook to

..................

7 ' fv cwl

Q W~

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