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October 21, 1991 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1991-10-21

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Monday, October 21, 1991

Page 5

Unfunny Money is counterfeit
comedy with mixed messages

Malcolm Tulip's training at Paris' Ccole Jacques Lecoq shines through all aspects of his performance. In the
above photo, for instance, Tulip, as Sganarelle, shoves a beret into his mouth.
A meeting of the Dons; Mould
and MIchael croon; Honey,
we've got Company for Dinner

Other People's
Money
dir. Norman Jewison
by Marie Jacobson
E very now and then that special
film comes along that probes be-
neath the surface, challenges our
values and examines the human ex-
perience. Other People's Money is
not that film. The talent is there -
Academy-Award winner Gregory
Peck, director Norman Jewison
(Moonstruck), the irascible Danny
DeVito and the sultry Penelope
Ann Miller - but even these
formidable actors can't salvage this
off-Broadway adaptation.
Originality is not a factor. Once
again, it's Wall Street versus Main
Street, rich versus poor and, of,
course, boy versus girl. These time-,
wearied scenarios have provided the;
backdrop for some respectable mo-
vies (see anything by Capra), but
when Money tries to incorporate
all of them into a poignant socio-I
economic commentary thinly dis-1
guised as a romantic comedy, the
film stretches in too many direc-
tions, tearing all hope of packing a
punch with any real muscle.
As "Larry the Liquidator," De-
Vito echoes his role as raunchy Lou-
ie DePalma from Taxi. This time
around, DeVito is an overbearing
corporate raider who sets his sights
on a small town's sole factory. But
there's something different about
this plant: it doesn't lie down and
play dead when Larry announces his
big, bad capitalist intentions. This
company has Andrew Jorgenson
(Peck) at its helm, and he cares
about his thousands of employees.
So let the games begin. Larry has
his entourage of corporate attorneys
in his towering New York City in-
vestment firm, and "Jorgy" has the

hearts of The People and a surprise
for the lowballing Larry: Kate
(Miller), a young, hardened lawyer
whose beauty and brains completely
captivate Larry.
The spoils of victory soon be-
come all too clear: if Larry succeeds
in his takeover attempt, he loses
Kate. If he withdraws his bid, he
still has no guarantee that Kate will
fall for him, and he forfeits an op-
portunity to profit from "other
people's money" - the very best
kind of profit there is. And that, to
the capitalist kingpin, is a fate far
worse than death.
Who wins? Everybody, in true
Disney-esque fashion. And the trip
to the ending is just about as emo-
tionally and intellectually stimu-
lating as the "It's A Small World"
cruise itself. Jewison's film seeks to
denounce the avarice of the '80s and
applaud working-class America, but
he instead settles for a compromise
that is neither satisfying nor whol-
ly feasible. He does not stage a bat-
tle between the proletariat and the
bourgeoisie. Instead, he pits cor-

porate raider against senior manage-
ment in a struggle between the very
rich and the rich, and then has the
audacity to pass it off as a mini-
drama along the lines of Ivan Bo-
esky-meets-Horatio Alger.
Frankly, the film just isn't
funny. The sexual tension between
DeVito and Miller plays surpri-
singly well, but the laughs it soli-
cits are short-lived and contrived.
We are never truly convinced that
Miller's Kate is the indomitable foe
she's purported to be, while De-
Vito's Larry is hardly a stretch, and
a tired-looking Peck conjures up an
uncharacteristically mediocre per-
formance. But give them some cre-
dit: Money is a frustrating ex-
perience. The film is a perfect exam-
ple of an old adage: if you have
something to say, say it. If you
don't, hold your tongue and let
someone else speak.

OTHER PEOPLE'S
playing at Showcase
wood.

MONEY is
and Briar-

Don Don or The First Burning
.'The Performance Network
October 19, 1991
Carol Brangstrom, if you're out there reading, we
just want you to know that you were missed at the the-
ater last Saturday night. Malcolm Tulip, the main man
behind the Prospero Theatre Company's new work, Don
Don or The First Burning, roamed into the audience
before the show, ticket reserve sheet in hand. He asked
for you, Carol. He checked the restrooms and the park-
ing lot, and you just weren't there.
Tulip might have been legitimately concerned, but
he was more intent on placing Don Don outside the
realm of your average three act play by successfully
combining music, dance, murals, Commedia dell'Arte
and Brechtian techniques. What we're saying, Carol, is
that you missed one of the most original pieces of
theater to be seen in Ann Arbor this fall.
Tulip - writer, director, producer and performer
-has synthesized the stories of Moliere's Don Juan,
Cervantes' Don Quixote, and La Susanna, an actual his-
torical figure from the Spanish Inquisition. The result
is Don Don or The First Burning, a story about revenge
that actually has very little to do with Don Juan, Don
Quixote or the Spanish Inquisition. Instead, the cha-
racters of the play are the servants of the two Dons:
Sganarelle (Tulip) and Sancho Panza (Jonathon
Smeenge). The Inquisition comes into play with the
introduction of Susanna (Lisa Dixon), a woman whose
mother's love affair inadvertently led to the exposure
of her grandfather's plan to resist the Inquisition, re-
sulting in his burning at the stake. That's how we get
The First Burning part of the title.
Sound confusing? Have no fear. Tulip and the en-
semble are way ahead of you. In place of an intermis-
sion, they explain the show to the audience with a
Brecht-like commentary.
This unconventional approach is continued in the de-
piction of Susanna's story, told in an isolated segment
that, stylistically, is a clean break from the bawdy the-
atrics of the primary plot. The "Dance of Death," cho-
reographed by Whitley Setrakian, while a fine modern
dance piece, seemed somewhat formal and out of place
ini a show full of earthy and easy physicality. But the
fantastic music of Frank Pahl served this scene es-
pecially well by matching its dreamlike quality. Pahl
and his band deserve enormous praise for their unique
brand of new age-ish music/sound effects that run so
successfully throughout the show.
Tulip's training as a mime at Paris' Ecole Jacques
Lecoq is joyfully evident in the rambunctious staging
of his scenes with Smeenge. As Sganarelle and Sancho,
the actors fight, plot and argue with hysterical results.
Smeenge's Sancho is a lovable, goofy rube who clearly
lets us know that he did not intend to get himself
involved in the mess that he and Sganarelle have stum-
bled upon.
Tulip's Sganarelle, meanwhile, is a one-man sym-
phony of quick takes, slight-of-hand tricks and en-
dearingly loopy stuttering. His flawless comedic tim-
ing propels most of the scenes at a breakneck pace.
With so much slapstick whirling around her, Dixon
has much to overcome as the wronged Susanna. There
isn't much humor inherent in a character, who equates
herself with "Aldonza DeLorenza, Dulcinea, Therese,
Elvira, Delilah (and) Eve," all women who have "had
their ability to love abused." Susanna isn't out for
laughs, but revenge, and while this motivation is appro-
priate to the story, it just isn't funny. As a result,
Dixon suffers. Her character is singularly humorless
and angry, and with no variation on those themes, any
legitimate gripe quickly becomes unsympathetic. And
Susanna's irrational desire to have Sganarelle killed to
justify her own suffering has the unfortunate effect of

invalidating any questions a story like this might raise
about the treatment of women by men.
This play is the second production of the Prospero
Theatre Company, the first being last year's Caliban
Motel, which Tulip wrote as well. Don Don or The
First Burning will continue at the Performance Net-
work, this Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and
Sunday at 6:30 p.m. Call 663-0681 for more info.
-Theresa McDermit
Bob Mould
Alvin's
October 17, 1991
George Michael
The Palace of Auburn Hills
October 18, 1991
OK, OK, it seems like Bob Mould and George Mi-
chael have nothing in common, and that they shouldn't
be compared in a joint concert review. But both mu-
sicians were members of successful, important, ex-
citing bands in the '80s that broke up, leading them to
similarly accomplished solo careers. Mould and Mi-
chae are both entertainers, though in different senses
of the word, and both evoke a strong reaction in
performance.
Seeing Mould live is the ultimate purge, both for
the audience and, it seems, for him. Mould has aban-
Seeing Mould live is the ultimate
purge, both for the audience and,
it seems, for him... his arresting
voice emitted a passion
unmatched by most complete
bands
doned, in concert at least, the power trio format of his
solo records, and thereby part of his songs' original ur-
gency. But his one-man, mostly acoustic set retained the
striking presence of the pieces. Workbook cuts such as
"Poison Years" and "Brasilia Crossed with Trenton"
were stripped to a 12-string, and Mould's arresting
voice, especially his throaty screams, emitted a passion
unmatched by most complete bands.
Though the set contained few songs from Black
Sheets of Rain, Mould's new, as-yet-unrecorded songs
gave the audience something to look forward to until
the release of his next album (by next August). At
times, Mould's execution of these new tunes was less
certain than his handling of the older material. His re-
working of familiar songs was most obvious in the
acoustic part of the show, rather than in the short elec-
tric section.
Mould's direct, honest style embodies a complex
simplicity. He's almost more harsh on just his 12-
string or Fender, playing with a kind of dramatic lush-
ness that cellos and other stringed instruments provide
on vinyl. This sound is provided by a person who is
self-confident yet self-conscious. He could have used
two to 100 pieces as support to much less effect. This
lonely stage presence only added to the stark, raw emo-
tions Mould radiated while singing and playing. And
the casual atmosphere - some people sat on the edges
of the stage, and Mould bantered with the audience
about the Thomas hearings and Virgin records - was
also a bonus. All in all, less was certainly more.
Michael, on the other hand, brought to the Palace a
tight, 11-piece band, his large ego, and an excellent, rich
voice. If there wasn't a backing tape, and it didn't seem
like it, Michael's chords have strength and depth most
pop figures can't muster. His 20-song set, however,
sounded uneven at best.
See GEORGE, Page 7

Tough lawyer Kate (Penelope Ann Miller) intimidates dwarf tycoon Larry
(Danny DeVito) in Hollywood's latest cartoon, Other People's Money.

The Fatima Mansions
Viva Dead Ponies
Radioactive/MCA
Imagine, for a moment, that The
The has changed its name to the Fa-
tima Mansions, accommodated its
style to sound more like that ultra-
hip Manchester scene, and released a
new album that combines all of its
worst elements with none of its
best. Sounds like a feverish night-
mare of Matt Johnson, you say? It
would be, if Johnson wasn't so
snidely cool as to not have to worry
about imitators. Fans of Johnson
shouldn't worry, either - the
Fatima Mansions are only a hollow
copy of The The.

Comparing the Fatima Mansions
to The The is inevitable. Sin-
ger/songwriter Cathal Coughlan's
lyrics have the same dark political
and social criticisms. The overall
sound of the two bands is very
similar - a mix of deep, resonant
keyboards and heavy guitars, backed
up with pounding drums or precise
drum machine beats. Both bands use
distorted vocals on some songs. And
the Mansions even have a parental
advisory label on the cover, just like
The The's Mind Bomb. The only
problem with the Mansions is that
they simply don't do as well of a
job as The The.
There are a few songs on the
Mansions' new album that do work
well, even if they're not original.
"Blues for Ceausescu" is a hard-
rocking, biting criticism of En-
gland's version of democracy, lash-
ing out at those who condemn dic-
tators like Ceausescu but ignore the
hypocrisy of England's monarch.
"Chemical Cosh" sounds like a
punk song, as does "Angel's De-
light" (which uses slow synthe-
sizers). "Only Losers Take the Bus"
attacks ignorance and those who
turn away from social problems.
However, even if you're content
to hear a The The clone, you'll still

be disappointed in the Fatima Man-
sions. The band hails from the
current and annoying British pop
scene (appearing on that com-
The band hails from
the current and an-
noying British pop
scene... Accordingly,
its sound, especially
the drums, is often
very shallow

1991 Autumn Las Vegas Night
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