The Michigan Daily
Wednesday, October 23, 1985
By David Schwenk
CAN ONE find satisfaction after
fighting a war? Meryl Streep puts
this question to the test in her new
film, Plenty. Her character, Susan,
has personal qualities that allow
Streep to show just how well she can
act. She's sexy, emotional, and
troubled by secrets from her past.
While Plenty's success does not rely
solely on Meryl Streep's performan-
ce, she makes a good idea for a film
an outstanding final product.
After a short sequence in France,
the setting shifts to London during
WWII. Susan is haunted by the
memory of the passion and idealism
she experienced as a fighter in the
French Resistance. Her present life is
drab and dull. She works in a shipping
office where her boss is an old half-wit
whose sole concern is to see how far
he can look down Susan's blouse.
Susan's friends' are members of
board committees that discuss such
grave issues as when to serve the
bread at the next luncheon. She
desperately wants to recapture the
excitement and sense of purpose she
felt as a freedom fighter, but finding
no outlet for her emotions, she in-
teracts with the other characters like
a corked-up bottle knocking against
dead pieces of wood, ready to explode.
And she eventually does.
Plenty is full of substance that one
doesn't see much in recent films: in-
triguing characters, a challenging
plot and well executed cinematic
techniques. The pace results in the
same tension as watching a game of
Russian roulette. The various scenes
are like bullets of experience that
Susan loads into a gun, ironically
hoping for a spark of life or emotion
each time she aims the gun at her
head. She is gradually reduced to
madness, and whenever she squeezes
the trigger, nothing happens.
For example, Susan tries having a
baby with a man she hardly knows,
but fails. She changes jobs, going
from one bad position to another. Her
actions are self-destructive. When she
finally marries, the bullet strikes
home. But instead of giving her the
emotional expression she sought in a
love relationship, the marriage
becomes dull and void of feelings.
The plot is a careful shift from ac-
tion to emotional involvement. The
scenes are highly dramatic; Streep is
captivating as Susan. Her gestures
and facial expressions reflect Susan's
growing madness and despair; she
draws us into her role, and we feel her
torment. Her physical appearance
changes from scene to scene, visually
echoing the decay of Susan's charac-
The entire cast is superb. Charles
Dance portrays Raymond, Susan's
husband, as a hard, cold Englishman
who masks his feelings with feigned
dignity. His complete lack of passion
strangles Susan. Tracy Ullman plays
Alice, Susan's friend, as a flirting,
aggressive, take-it-as-it-comes type
girl. She offers comic relief when it is
And once again Sting pops up in the
cinema. There is nothing extraor-
dinary about his acting, but he gets
the job done. He doesn't look out of
place like other rock stars have in the
past when they played on the big
Also, the film contains splendid
shots of the different towns and coun-
trysides. Director Fred Schepisi is
sensitive to the subject matter. He
skillfully creates a tense atmosphere
of pressurized emotions and bitter-
Plenty isn't shocking enough to
blow away its audience with lots of in-
tense action. There aren't any fantasy
trips to other times and other worlds.
But the film keeps the audience's at-
tention with its wonderful interplay
between the characters; it expresses,
both emotionally and visually, a time
of change in the lives of many,
changes still felt today.
Watch for it in
Abe ibiga DEM
MERYL STREEP is Susan, a woman whose present does not live up to
her past, in the film 'Plenty.'
Night of nonsense features lineup of idiots
YOU THINK school is nonsense?
Just wait until you see the antics
of Radio Free Wolverine, whose
troupe of dedicated musicians and
comedians will make your nonsense
dreams come true tonight at the RC
Auditorium in East Quad, beginning
at 8 p.m. Admission is free.
Each show consists of a long sketch
involving a set of main characters and
two musical numbers.
The plots - totally nonsense - are
sometimes not, according to Mark
Schildberg, one of the troupe's
"The plots themselves are not
meant to make sense," said Schild-
berg. "Somehow the route taken is
more important than the
Both of tonight's shows will be
recorded for broadcast on WCBN.
The list of main characters begins
with Marc Taras as David Steingold,
who is the "fearless patriotic-idiot
hero," according to Schildberg.
"All the characters tend to be
idiots," he said.
Gilbert Smegma, played by Toby
Stone, is the "adolescent-obsequious
idiot" and assistent to the hero, David
The idiot villains are headed by
Prince Hal Shapiro, a supply side
economist "who frequently has his
trousers ruined by the trickle-down
effect," said Schildberg, who plays
Toby Stone as Lord Jim Manure
(pronounced Man-u-ray) is a "cad
and lackey to the Prince, and has a
different middle name every show for
tax purposes," said Schildberg.
Ted-Bob (Mark Schildberg) and Enid
(Lynette Penar) are two Ozark idiots.
Ted-Bob is "rumored to be the only
surviving offspring of Tarzan Lord
Greystoke" while Enid, who "was
born wearing orthopedic shoes and a
rain net, is the rumored wife of Ted-
Lynette Penar as Leannarama is a
"feminist idiot with an extremely
As an example of a show Schildberg
described "The Missing Nat Sci
Building," where the hero has been to
Health Service and told that in order
to live he must go on a diet of
"This catches the attention of Prin-
ce Hal who has just learned that the
Natural Science Building is literally
floating on a lake of oil. Prince Hal
forces David to eat the Natural Scien-
ce Building at gunpoint."
The music for the two shows will be
provided by The Jeffrey Chajes Quar-
tet and vocal soloist Lynette Penar.
The evening begins with an audien-
ce warm-up featuring the Quartet.
followed by a TV trivia game, and a According to Schildberg, the night
short sketch. There will be a short of nonsense will last about 90 minutes.
break between the two shows that are
to be recorded. - Chris Lauer
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