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February 04, 1992 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1992-02-04

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'The Michigan Daily Tuesday, February 4, 1992 Page 5
Extra-terrestrial 0 obleckians
Gone are the days of non-excreting imbibers and
cannibalism in Theatre Oobleck's production

The Performance Network
February 1, 1992
It's easy to see why Chicago crit-
ie$ have raved about the entertaining
Theatre Oobleck. The group pre-'
septed their brilliant metaphorical
production of Gone before standing
room only crowds at the Perfor-
mance Network this weekend.
In the final perfonnance of a nine'
week run, "Oobleckiians" have re-
ally had a chance to dig into their
roles. As a result, the timing was
impeccable, and the characteriza-
tions evoked plausible sympathy.
The play opened by introducing a
deeply troubled foursome. The
group is trapped on an infinitely ex-
tending plateau-of-a-world called
Healing Wound. Alan (Danny
Thompson), who could be every mam
who longs to escape, creates a "non-
excreting imbiber." The device
transports his wife, Verna .(Barbara
Thorne), and two neighbors Tom
and Beverley (Mickle Maher and
Lisa Black), to another dimension.
In preparation for the journey
Alan serves up some homemadc
liuor (his own waste) and everyone
drinks down, only to find that
among other things, their new real.
ity allows "zero excretion." It's a
place where "stomachs are dead

Suddenly, ani incestuous, canni-.
balistic version of the Borrowers
(Jeff Dorchen, Tarias GUartelos and
Christina Koehlinger) literally'
tumble in. They are another sad
bunch who spend their time stealing.
other peoples belongings and eating
each other's limbs. With every exit,
they confiscate more and more of
Alan's furniture.
Strangeness continues when an
odd, colon-like worm lures Verna
to her death, and Tom - another ev-

eryman who wants to beat the sys-
tem - completes his thesis by burn-
ing thea doctoralcom ittee mem-
bers in a brit. origw'ni bird.
Finally left alone in his barren
room, Alan resorts to frantic
pounding on walls and yet finds no.
It sounds kind of depiressing, but
Maher's colorful scriptprovides
continuous reasons to grin. (At one
point, a desperate Beverley ex-
claimed, "Digestion just isn't- the
fashion here!')
Gruesome, but funny visuals also
decorated the script. Blood squirted
from a missing finger, small rub-
bery worms were flung about, and
wallpaper. was literally torn off the
walls. Only the ending was unclear

and disappointingly trickled off to
Thompson's Alan was perfectly
nerdy and -Thorne and B lack were
triumphant as the diseased and
drunk women.
Maher was quite believable as
the PhD candidate who would go to
the extent of biting off his own fin-
ger to gain control. The gymnnastic
abilities and cockney accents of
Dorchen, Gartelos and Koehlinger
sustained a wonderfully daring
Ted de Moniak spoke viva-
ciously, but sometimes too quickly,
as the hyper-active worm. And
David Isaacson delivered a tight
monologue as Dr. Meehan, the for-
mer doctoral committee member
who gets burned. Convincingly dis-
tressed costumes and sets, appar-
ently concocted by the cast, added
keen punctuation.
Gone did make for a sad com-
mentary on society, but Gobleck
handled it with :such skill and clev-
erness that it became much more
than tolerable. The intricacy and in-
telligence of the play left us want-
ing more.
Ann Arbor should be proud to
have produced such talent, and Per-
formnance Network should not hesi-
tate to invite Oobleck back in the
near future!
-Maureen Janson

With Melanie Griffith at his side in Shining Through, Michael Douglas looks awfully distracted. He must be
thinking about his forthcoming movie, the NC-17 smoker Basic Instinct, starring Sharon Stone.

bb- in Na
Shing Through
dir. David Seltzer
by Aaron Hamburger
M elanie Griffith always makes a convincing airhead,
but this does not bode well for her latest movie,
Shining Through, a sort of cross between Working Girl
and a World War Il spy movie from the '40s. The film
is based On the best-selling novel by Susan Issacs.
Griffith plays Linda Voss, a half-Jewish secretary
of German extraction who works for the O.S.S. Voss
volunteers to go on a spy mission in the heart of Nazi
Germany, in the hopes of helping to rescue her Jewish
relations who are still in hiding somewhere in Berlin.
The distinguished cast includes Michael l)ouglas
(who's completely wasted), Darkman LIam Neeson,
Joely Richardson and even Sir John Gielgud, but they
all play second fiddle to Griffith.
Unfortunately, she never displays the steely confi-
dence or the intelligence which are integral to the chiar-

tg girl' s a
zi Germany
acter of Voss. The role cries out for a modern Katharine
Hepburn - Judy Davis, for example. Instead, Griftit
offers flat line readings in an insipid, uninflected voice
from the Victoria Jackson school of acting.
Despite the presence of Griffith and a hokey framing
device involving a BBC retrospective, the film manages
to be quite successful in reproducing the feeling of
danger and self-righteousness that produced classic
films like 7hirtiy Seconds Over Tokyo and The Mortal
Shining Through seems most believable when Grif-
fith does something stupid to screw up her mission, as
in one sequence when she tries to pass as a cook in the
home of an important Nazi general and ends up ruining
the entire dinner by servimg raw doves. The movie also
succeeds in conveying the edgy, tense atmosphere of
Germany under the Third Reich.
Though Melanie Griffith makes the film fundamen-
tally weak at its core, for suspense, Shining Through of-
fers a few familiar and enjoyable thrills.
SHINING T HROUGH is playing at Showcase.

Maus: A Survivor's
Tale, II: And Here My
Troubles Began
Art Spiegeimin
Writing about the Holocaust in
comic book form might seem in-
credibly reductive, but only to peo-
ple who haven't read many comic
books lately. You don't have to wear
a funny costume to have thought bal-
loans anymore. Artists such as Frank
Miller and -Alan Moore have been.
proving that for years.
Art Spiegelman, in his ground-
breaking Maus: A Survivor's Tate
and now in its sequel, makes use of,
and subverts, many comic cliches.
The characters are animals - Jews
as mice, Germans as cats, Americans
as dogs - but they and their situa-
tions are ftr from funny.
The story once again features
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Spiegelman himself (as a mouse, of
course), a confused artist trying des-
perately to make sense of a shock-
ingly brutal, not-so-distant history.
Vladek attempts to cOpe, in part,
though interviews with his father,
Vladek, a survivor of both Ausch-
witz and Dachau.
The book's artwork is simple but
effective, although its small panels
sometimes become crowded and
repetitious. The true strength of
Ma us, however, come-s from the
compelling character of Vladek.
Most of the story is related in his
broken English, which hypnotically
draws in the reader. The tension be-
tween stubborn father and impatient.
soil becomes even less ta n sec-
ondary: Vladek's tale is what makes
this book unforgettable.
We've all seen concentration
camp documentaries, but shots of
faceless corpses being bulldozed, no

matter how horrific, don't compare
to personal accounts -such -'as
Spiegelman's. " ... But now in
Auschwitz, Mandelbaum was a
mess," Vladek says of an unfortu-
nate friend.
His pants were big like fOr 2
people, and he had not even a piece
Of string to make a belt. He had all
day to hold themn with one hand
One shoe, his flot was too big 1l go
in. This also he had to d hold so he
could find maybe with whom to ex-
change it. One shoe was big like a
boat. But this at least he could wear
... It was winter, and everywhere he
had to go around with one foot onto
the snbw-
"My God. Please God ... -elp
me find a piece of string and a shoe
that fits!" Mandelbaum later cries, to
which Vladek's narrative voice re-
sponds, "But here God didn't come.
We were all on our own."
- Mark Binelli

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Monty Python
Monty Python Sings
Music has always been a corner-
stone of Monty Python's unique;
brand of absurdist British humor,
from their, trademark theme
(Sousa's "Liberty Bell") to the
now-classic "Lumberjack Song,"
that wry ode to transvestism il the
woods. Their songs are deftly
crafted, from both a comedic and a
musical standpoint - you find
yourself laughing and humming
along at the same time - and are
impeccably performed.
So, it's only natural that there be
an album devoted exclusively to
Python music. It sounds like a great
Unfortunately, Python Stings
suffers the tragic fate of too many,
great ideas. In retrospect, it seems it
would have been smarter to let the
album remtain a concept.
There is no point in discussing
the actual material, since fully 70t
percent of the known world already
has most of it mernorized. We all
know that Monty Pythlon is -to hu-
mor what Bach is to the fugue, what
the Beatles are to the three-minute
pop melody, what Lake Titicaca is to
extremely high bodies of water.- I
find fault Ilot ill the songs them-
selves, but rather in their presenta-
-The first problem with Python
Sings is that the songs have been
completely stripped of their accom-

panying dialogue, resulting in the
loss of much of their comedic im-
pact. Imagine "Knights of the
Round Table" without the leading
cries of "Camelot! Camelot!
Camelot! (It's only a model)" and
bereft of King Arthur's deadpan
conclusion: "On second thought,
let's not go to Camelot. It is a silly
Secondly, the song choices seem,
at best, erratic. There are several imi-
portant omissions, most notably, "I
Bet You They Won't Play This Song
on the Radio," a melodiously funny
jab at radio censorship. Python Sings
clocks in at only 54 minutes, so it's
not like they didn't have room.
Some of the songs that were In-
cluded probably should have been
left out. For exuple, "The Meal-
ing of Life" doesn't work very well
apart from the Meaning of Life
soundtrack. It just doesn't make
sense sandwiched between "Bruces'
Philosophers Song" and "Knights."
The same can be said for "Brian
The track ordering - and tlis re-
lates to mny second problen --
seemns to have been done by a nri-
juana-smoking aardvark. 'H-ey -
why don't we group all the movie
songs together, or just put them all

in chronological order ... or some-
thing?' As it is, the tunes seem to b'e
placed randomly. Good thing CD
players are prograunmable.
And finally, the liner notes are
lacking. They say notding about the
origins of the somlgs, when they were
recorded, what albums they origi-
nally appeared on, etc. And there are
no clever comments from any of the
Pythons. I guess this is a "seriouni"
treatment of their music.
Monty Python Sings.
A-great idea - but only that.
-Alan Glenn
Primal Scream
Primal Scream is a band that
quite obviously has an affinity for
drugs, particularly Ecstacy. Songs
like "Loaded"'and "Higher Than
The Sun" are testanents to peace,
love, and good times through al-
tered states of consciousness.
If their new album, Screamalel-
ica is any indication, maybe, more
bands should indulge in mind-ex-
panding chemicals. This trippy cOl-
lection of post-acid house, ambient,
hippy love chants is one of 1991's
best albums.
See RECORDS, Page 8


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