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February 26, 1990 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1990-02-26

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0

J

ARTS
Monday, February 26, 1990

The Michigan Daily

Page 8

War creates Enemies

I

Enemies, a Love
Story
dir. Paul Mazursky

-f '
The mayor's wife (Janet Clarkson) and her husband (Michael A. Barron) discuss some problems in The
Inspector General, performed by the University Players over the weekend.

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by Brent Edwards
There is a scene in Enemies, A
Love Story where Herman (Ron
Silver) stands before a sign in a
train station that points to three
different destinations. One is the
Bronx where he lives with his
wife, Yadwiga (Margaret Sophie
Stein) - a Polish peasant whom
he doesn't love but whom he mar-
ried out of gratitude for hiding him
from the Nazis. One points to
Brooklyn where his lover Masha
(Lena Olin) lives, the woman he
loves tremendously and can't live
without. The last points to Man-
hattan where Tamara (Anjelica
Huston), the wife he thought had
died in a concentration camp, has
suddenly appeared and taken resi-
dence. The scene aptly sums up the
situation in which Herman finds
himself as it does his inability to
make any decisions whatsoever be-
tween the three.
Beautifully directed by Paul
Mazursky (Down and Out in Bev-
erly Hills) and adapted from a
novel by Isaac Bashevis Singer,
Enemies presents a New York
City of 1949 washed out in browns
and grays, as if the city's color had
been drained by World War II and
has not yet had time to recover.
The film is a serio-comedy in
which, as with most Mazursky
films (An Unmarried Woman,
Moscow on the Hudson), the
comedic element is a constant un-
dercurrent to the more serious
themes presented.
The story deals with Herman's
attempts to handle the three women
in his life, but instead of focusing
on how he handles them (zany
scenes with him on three dinner
dates at once could have been pro-
duced a la Three's Company), the
viewer is drawn toward why he
does and the motives behind each
character involved. Silver is

haunted by the Nazis who hunted
him; he sees them in his dreams
and hears their dogs chasing him as
he walks down then street. His un-
sympathetic portrayal of a man
with three wives shows us a man
now incapable of making impor-
tant decisions after his ordeal dur-
ing the war. When one of the
women's mothers dies, he says,
"Maybe your mother's better off.
She doesn't have to make any deci-
sions; that's the one advantage to
being dead." In a sense, he is still

stands Herman exactly. She was
left for dead in a concentration
camp and is visited at night by vi-
sions of her dead children. She
seems content to take whatever she
can get out of life. Olin portrays
the unstable but sensuous Masha
(not quite as erotic as her role in
The Unbearable Lightness of Be-
ing) who has lost faith in God. At
times she doesn't seem to care
about life and explains, "After all
I've been through, how could it
matter if I was to die, commit sui-

9

Inspector a general
disappointment
When a piece of theater is called
"black comedy" it's implied that
there's a harmonious balance of the
two items, "black" and comedy, in
the show. Just how much of each is
left to the director's discretion, and
the acceptance of a show depends on
whether the director achieves the bal-
ance the playwright intended. In the
case of University Players produc-
tion of Nikolai Gogol 's The Inspec-
tor General, this balance was not
properly struck.
Gogol's black comedy about cor-
ruption in a small Russian village
has the potential to be quite evilly
satirical. When a newcomer arrives
in the village, the higher-ups, who
have been warned that a government
inspector is coming to investigate

corruption, immediately assume that
the young gentleman is the inspector
travelling incognito. They fall to
fawning and bribing the young man
who, being broke, is happy to take
advantage of the hospitality of the
village.
Unfortunately, in trying to bring
out the comic aspects in the sleazi-
ness of the village officials, director
Richard Klautsch lost much of the
satire and bleakness that underlies
the comedy. Gogol wasn't aiming to
write pure slapstick in Inspector,
and in making the play lean toward
the comic Klautsch left behind the
satire without which the comedy
can't quite stand up. The silly slap-
stick side of the play is not continu-
ous or consistent enough to hold the
play on its own.
Even the remaining satire was
weakened because of the emphasis
on comedy. There were scenes in the

second act that were chillingly
nightmarish, but because they were
not led up to by continuous underly-
ing satire they seemed oddly out of
place. The town officials were such
figures of fun in earlier sections of
the play that the audience didn't
seem to know how to react when the
Mayor suddenly sadistically kicked
two merchants. In only one scene,
other than the last, was the satire
truly evident: the "Inspector General"
is nearly attacked by a horde of beg-
gars who burst into the Mayor's
house to appeal to him for help. The
stark contrast between this astonish-
ingly well-done few seconds and the
rest of the play showed the distance
which Klautsch placed between the
black and the comedy.
Congratulations should go to
Lighting Designer Susan Chute for
her footlighting. By throwing up the
See REVIEW, page 9.

Herman (Ron Silver) and Masha (Lena Olin) argue, presumably over the
fact that Masha is not Herman's only wife. The comical undertones of
this predicament are subdued to portray Herman's serious situation.

hiding in the barn that he used to
escape the Nazis. He shares with
the three women the common bond
of having survived the war which,
although four years past, still
greatly affects their lives.
Yadwiga, the peasant wife, is
brilliantly portrayed by Margaret
Sophie Stein; she deserves an
Oscar nomination as much as Hus-
ton and Olin. She is a simple
woman who has dedicated herself to
caring for Herman, bathing and
feeding him; she desparately wants
to become Jewish so she can bear
his child. Huston is terribly cool as
Herman's first wife who under-,

cide?" Each of the women is well
defined and wonderfully given depth
by the actors. The motivations, de-
cisions, and emotions of these
three draw the viewer's attention
and sympathies, providing much
material for post-movie ponder-
ings. As with Crimes and Misde-
meanors, Enemies has genuinely
funny scenes but has you leaving
the theater without feeling that
you've laughed much at all - per-,
haps a universal comment on life.
ENEMIES, A LOVE STORY isi
playing at Briarwood.

Writers travel to exotic oases

5, a
i.4

CURRENT
RESIDENCE
HALL

by Jay Pinka
AND so it's Monday, that unwel-
come day in a week full of
midterms, and you're squeezing your
brain cells for any spark of ingenuity
you can muster. Whether you work
with words, numbers, for culture or
For science, the final push before the
repast of spring break can feel like
breaking through intergalactic barri-

ers.
If you're feeling the monodrone
of Michigan weather, the confines of
culture, and the limitations of lan-
guage, there is a cure. Stephanie
Halgren and Richard Terrill will offer
an intimately whimsical, exotic oa-
sis of sights and sounds through
their fiction and poetry this evening
at Guild House.
The widely-published Halgren is
a primary example of crossing disci-

pl inary barriers by way of the ma.,
chinery of imagination. Through a
long correspondence with her firs
love, poetry, she has resurrected lan;
guage into a series of polished equa-
tions where the logic is lyricism.
"Sound means as much as mean;
ing means," says Halgren. Though;
fond of "mouthfuls of words," she
carefully composes the music behind
hers. "If it doesn't sound right, it's
not right," she says.
A graduate of University of Ark-
zona's M.F.A poetry writing pro-,
gram, Halgren has appeared in Iron-
wood, The Georgia Review, The
North American Review, Black
See GUILD, page 9

9

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1 L'

The University of Michigan
Center for Russian and East European Studies
A Public Briefing and Roundtable with Center Faculty
Thursday, March 1, 1990
Rackham Ampitheatre, 2:00-5:00 p.m
Reception Following
UPHEAVAL IN THE EAST: REVOLUTION
IN THE USSR AND EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

*

For more information please contact:
THE HOUSING INFORMATION OFFICE

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