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January 30, 1983 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1983-01-30

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The Michigan Daily-Sunday, January 30, 1983-Pageo.

Fredricksen rises


Madman's' challenge

By Chris Lauer
D iary of a Madman, part of the
Michigan Ensemble Theater's
latest repertory, is a masterfully con-
ceived blend of classic and experimen-
tal dramatic technique. Erik
Fredricksen's one-man performance as
IPoprishchin, a Russian peasant unable
to cope with the reality of the world, is
an eye opening balance of humor and
Trampled by the world, Poprishchin
gradually finds his own reality-a war-
ped idealism that he finds ultimately
unsatisfying. Fredricksen guides the
sole character and the play to an un-
forgetable climax. The play will be
performed at the New Trueblood Arena
for one more weekend, February 2-5 at
8 p.m. and on February 6 at 2 p.m. The
cast and crew will be available for
discussion after Thursday night's per-
The original Diary of a Madman, a
short story written by Nikolai Gogol in
the early 1800's, is not an obvious can-
didate for stage adaptation. Though the
short story consists of nothing more
than diary entries, Walter Eysselinck,
writer and artistic director for the play,
smade an excellent adaptation. The
changes in Poprishchin's mental state
and his haunting final lines are ideal for
the straightforward dramatic build up
and climax that is the standard form
for a dramatic play. Eysselinck's
master stroke is that he was able to see
this in Gogol's short story and makes it
work as a play even thought it has only
one character.
Eysselinck is able to extrapolate the
spirit of Gogol's short story onto the
'stage with fidelity by thinking and
doing as Gogol. The result is a play
with consistency of which Gogol could
only approve.
Erik Fredricksen handles the in-
credible responsibility of being the only
actor on stage with an excellent and
moving performance. With gradual
changes in action, expression, and
voice, Fredricksen produces over the
course of the play changes in Poprish-


Erik Fredricksen plays Poprischin in MET's production of 'Diary of a Madman.'

chin that are nothing less than haunting
for the audience. The constant
development in Poprishchin's mental
condition and the fact that Poprishchin
always has something new, often
bizarre to report, offsets the risk of a
single character and keeps the audien-
ce absorbed.

Diary of a Madman is an unusual
dramatic event. Performed from a
central stage in all directions to
audience, this innovative play gives the
audience a look inside a man's head to
see his hopes-and to see his

Lester shakes the


By Mike Cramer
RIDAY AND SATURDAY night the Blind Pig Cafe was
the site of performances by some of the area's greatest
blues artists.
Detroit's Willie D. Warren and his Brush Street Blues Band
shook the little basement on First Street, with a lot of help
from special guest Lazy Lester Johnson. (I think Lester was
only officially booked for Friday night, but he was having
such a good time, he said he'd be back again Saturday.)
Neither Willie D. nor Lazy Lester is a new face in the blues
Willie D. Warren spent more than a few years in Chicago
playing with Otis Rush and others before he brought his
talent and his twelve string Gibson to Detroit. His band in-
cludes three young white guys (flashiest of whom is "Ralph,"
the sax player), and Little George Jackson, who's really been
Among others, Little George toured with Sonny Roy
Williamson, who thought highly of him enough to sing about
him in "Start Me Talkin'." Although he played second man to
Willie D. and Lester, he was quite a stage presence, picking
some great leads and occasionally poking jibes at Lester.
Lazy Lester, who calls himself "an old black cajun from
Louisiana," grew up in Baton Rouge, and later played
Chicago and recorded in Holland and England. He turns fifty
this year, and says he began singing when he was about six,
under the informal tutelage of his mother, who used to "sing
every mornin' while she was fixin' daddy's lunch."
He began playing guitar soon after he began singing, and
evantually taught himself to play drums, bass, and har-
monica, for which he is best known. He told me how, when he
was young and "greener than goat's milk," he landed his fir-
st recording job with a big-time blues artist, first by talking
his way into the studio, and then "just by playin' the harp".

He went on to tour and record with people like Jimmy Reed
and Buddy Rich, and he also cut four albums of his own.
Lester is a very talkative guy: friendly, funny, full of
stories. He tells a lot of "punny" jokes ("Who's the pianist?
That guy over there is! He's had so much to drink, he's the
peein'est guy in the whole bar!"), and he offered his
philosophies on life, love, and marriage. (He was a little fuz-
zy on marriage, though; he told me he'd never been married,
but told the audience he once "got married thirteen times in
one week").
Talking to Lazy Lester was a treat, but seeing him on stage
was fantastic. Despite the talent of the Brush Street Blues
Band and their leader Willia D. Warren, Lester was
unquestionably the star of the show. Throughout the evening,
he and willie took turns on the stage. Each of them crooned
through slow tunes and jammed thorugh rowdier ones, in a
balanced mix of love ballads, "bluesy" blues, and rockin'
numbers like "Kansas City."
Lester has a great voice, and put it to good use in superb
versions of "Caledonia," Jimmy Reed's "Big Boss Man,"
and a lot of other songs which I quit trying to keep track of.
Even when Lester wasn't on stage, he was the star. He made
his way around the room, stopping to drink, joke, and talk
with the fans. At pauses in the music,his laughter (and the
laughter of whoever he happened to be sitting with at the
time) could be heard above the din of the crowd. He is an
exhuberent man: according to his friend Willie D., "he ain't
lazy . . . he just gets tired sometimes."
, Willie D. Warren, Little George Jackson, and the Brush
Street Blues Band, and especially Lazy Lester Johnson, put
on a great show. And the tight, friendly atmosphere of The
Blind Pig was a perfect place to see, hear, and feel it.
When asked if he'd be back again, Lazy Lester replied,
"Does a wild boar shit in the woods?" Can Lazy Lester play
some great blues? Does a wild boar shit in the woods?

Marvin Gaye - 'Midnight
.Love' (CBS)
"When I get this feeling, I want
Sexual Healing/Sexual Healing,
baby, is good for me. "
SEXUAL HEALING. Quite a concept
I love that concept. Sexual Healing.
A glowing review. Sexual Healing
Well, Marvin Gaye did not think of that
phrase-somebody else on the album is
credited for it. I
- Sexual Healing.There, however, has
not been one song this year, or in a very
ling time-including anything by Bill or
Willie Nelson-that should not be in-

please" on "Til Tomorrow" is alone
worth a three quarter erection rating in
"Sexual Healing" is not the first song
on this album, nor the only song on Mid-
night Love. All the songs on this album
have one thing in common, however:
Marvin Gaye sings on all of them. He
played on all of them too. Makes me
feel good to know that when I say Wow,
that new Marvin Gaye Album!!, I don't
have to credit anybody else.
Returning foal reaches electro soul
goal. Marvelous Marvin makes
Motown majorily midgets mentally,
marrying modern machines meltingly
mouth muse-moos. Motown let Marvin
go. Duh Duh Duh.
Marvin did have some help, including
the Box. Baby, come in, let's relax a
while. 'll turn down the lights. POP

Because, with the layered lilt,
hearing Marvin ooze and slink and
growl out "babys" and "girls" make
you realize that if you sing it with a lot
of Sexual Feeling, that is not manufac-
tured by long haired blow dryed '70s
thirty-year old I've-been-working-the-
bar circuit-for-years-and-I'm-about-
due watered down metal kids, it just
makes you, well, smile broadly.
Smile a while and screw on a Marvin
mile. Motown magic man with master
plan: Sexual healing "helps to relieve
the mind, and it's good for us." A
whole soul super bowl, at least as good
as a glazed roll. - C.E. Krell
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