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October 28, 1985 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1985-10-28

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ARTS
Monday, October 28, 1985

The Michigan Daily

Page 5

Playwright's wit cannot stand alone

By Seth Flicker
WASPs. Are they a dying breed
being replaced by upwardly
.nobile urban professionals or are
ay's materialistic yuppies
morrow's staunchy WASPs? This is
tie central theme treated by A.R.
Gurney in his crisp and lively play
The Dining Room. If only the Ensem-
ble Theatre Company's production
were as crisp and lively as Gurney in-
tended it.
Gurney concerns himself with the
dining room as a focal point for all
discussion, interaction and contradic-
tion; basically representing WASP-
om itself. What happens in the dining

room parallels the disintegration of
WASP culture.
The play, itself, is crisp. The lines
are witty and powerful with a touch of
sarcasm. Gurney is masterful at
making the audience laugh at real-life
crises, experiences everyone has in
common.
The script is compelling, but unfor-
tunately the production did not do
justice to many of Gurney's potent
lines. The players had a tendency to
underplay crucial lines, not giving the
viewer a chance to absorb the humor
or the meaning of the line.
Six graduate theatre students take
on the roles of 57 characters, making
The Dining Room indeed a difficult
play to execute. Not only does each

player perform 9 or 10 roles, but the
roles are diverse. One actress may.
portray an old aunt in one scene and
then play an annoyed teenager in
another.
Each actor portrayed at least one of
their characters well; even so most of
the roles were executed poorly.
Only a couple of the actors in the en-
semble could portray their varied
characters to any satisfaction.
Stephen Smith portrayed the most
diverse roles, playing a rich gran-
dfather and a fun-loving child with
equal potency. Though Smith tended
to be a bit over-dramatic at points, he
was the most powerful actor in the
production.
Marcy McGuigan, though she did

not portray all her roles with the same
power as her zany four-year-old,
was a strong asset to the production.
Scenes in which these two actors
participated in were generally suc-
cessful. Strong performances by such
actors as Smith and McGuigan over-
shadowed the weaker ones, giving the
scene a smooth texture; in the birth-
day scene, for example.

The birthday scene shows the af-
termath of an inter-marital affair
against the background of a rowdy
birthday party for a four-year-old.
This combination of a well-written
scene and strong performances is
exactly what the audience should
have been given throughout the play.
Unfortunately, when scenes were
executed by two or more weak per-

formers, I felt deeply unsatisfied.
The Dining Room was a crisp, fast-
moving production containing a lot of
good, powerful material. It's not that
the ensemble maligned the material
- they just didn't capitalize on it. It
seemed that the actors felt the play
could come to life by itself, but unfor-
tunately it didn't.

Violinist lacks fiery execution

, .
. . -ti

Area bands ignite

I

A S THE ROCK and roll weekend
that was draws to a close, my
ears are still ringing with the om-
ni-sounds of the combined talents of
It's Raining, Map of the World, and
SDreaming in Color.
Friday night the unusually fascist
U-Club was the scene of It's
Raining's return to rock 'n' roll
existence. Led by singer/songwriter
/guitarist/all-around frenzied in-
dividual Matthew Smith, It's
Raining kept a supportive U-Club
audience on their toes with their two
45-minute-plus sets. Despite oc-
casional sound problems and
inadequately miked drums. It's
Raining proved that the last two
months haven't been idle ones.
Rousing versions of virtually all of
their Radioland EP highlighted the
show, demonstrating that Brad Ross
Fairman's eclectic drumming style
loses nothing with . his switch to
acoustic drums, and that Brian
Salk's bass position is a strong plus
to the band's sound.
Keyboardist Stephan Vernier
provided outstanding work on "Go
'Along With You" as did Smith with
his Damned-like vocals and
chorused guitarwork on
"Radioland."
But they had plenty of fun as well,
ending with slamming versions of
Sweet's "Ballroom Blitz," Wire's
"12XU" and Kiss' "Makin' Love."
Paul Westerberg would've been
proud.
Dreaming in Color made their Ann

Arbor debut at East Quad's
Halloween Thing Saturday night.
Yugi Oniki led the new band
through a score of originals, marked
by strong, jumpy bass playing from
Mark Mosher, solid drumming from
Matthew Lindquist and diverse
guitar work from Oniki. His Peter-
Buck-meets-Will-Sargeant-style,
varying from acoustic to the om-
nipresent cutaway, was a refreshing
change from the cliched jangle chords
that plague most guitar-oriented ac-
ts of recent times.
It's Raining's Matthew Smith ad-
ded his own bit of frenzied six-string
work for a cover of Big Star's "Sep-
tember Girls" and an am-
phetamined version of Robin Hitch-
cock's "Failures." Overall, a tight,
clean, and lest we forget, fun debut
from Dreaming in Color.
Map of the World followed with a
labored single set, as their drive back
from New York after CBGB's must
have been a hard one. Despite the
usual cynicism of guitarist Khalid
Hanifi, the band shone bright with
pumping versions of "Disconnec-
tion" and "Hiroshima Girls," as well
as an impromptu version of the
Smith's "What Difference Does It
Make?" that had singer Sophia
Hanifi doing her best. A great cover
of Big Star's "September Girls"
rounded off their hour-and-a-half set
well. A little sloppy for a band that's
just been to the East Coast, but still -
fun.
-Hobey Echlin

By Neil Galanter
T HE 81-YEAR-OLD violinist
Nathan Milstein performed this
past Thursday at Rackham
Auditorium, and proved two things:
One, he is still a violinist of excep-
tional control with complete mastery
over his instrument; and two, he is
perhaps getting older and his inter-
pretations do not have the fire they
used to.
Milstein played a lengthy first half
of a program. Opening the recital with
a performance of Handel's A Major
Sonata, he evidenced a clear tone,
which rang with plentiful sweet har-
monies. He then merely proceeded
through a performance of
Beethoven's Sonata in F major for
Piano and Violin, Opus 24 ("Spring").
Notice the order of those two in-
struments in the title, Piano comes
first. That's because these Sonatas
are really scored more heavily for the
pianist then they are for the violinist.
Milstein and his pianist, Frenchman
Georges Pludermacher, performed
somewhat lifelessly. Climaxes
seemed to be missing from the
reading, high points in the music un-
justly overlooked. Pludermacher
could have toned his performance up
a great deal. His intonation was meek
in many cases, which didn't help the
overall spirit of the piece.
Milstein than took the stage alone to
play Bach's Partita in D Minor for
unaccompanied violin. His control

and tone were amazing; however, the
concept of a Partita - which is a
group of contrasting Baroque dance
pieces - was missing. An Allemande
must contrast with a Courante, and a
Courante must contrast with a
Gigue, and so on and so forth.
Milstein didn't manifest this idea of
contrast very well. If he hadn't stop-
ped in between dance movements, I
would have never known that he was
playing another dance.
After intermission, Milstein again
demonstrated his extraordinary
technical mastery of the violin with a
performance of his own Paganiniana
Variations set to the well known and

widely used Paganini violin caprice
theme. His soft playing was in-
credible, with ample evidence of
technical brilliance.
Tender moments were abundant in
"A Tale and Andante" of Prokofiev,
and a Lullaby by Tchaikovsky, and
more technical brilliance in the
closing number, Saragate's Introduc-
tion et Torantelle Opus 43.
The only thing the concert lacked was
a sense of fire and booming energy.
And really, we can't fault Mr. Milstein
entirely. Hats should be tipped to any
man of 81 years who still plays scores
and scores of concerts each season.

If

Hanifi
...not quite Morrissey, but still fun

i

4

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