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January 24, 1994 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-01-24

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Improv and wit join
torces in'Woyzeck'
"20 scenes in 20 styles in 60 minutes!!!! Can they do it?????"
While the Neo-Retro-Group wasn't able to get through all 22 parts of their
production of "Neo-Retro-Woyzeck," they did manage to give their Friday
night audience at the Performance Network 20 scenes that combined impro-
visation, audience participation, irreverent wit and pure late-night weirdness
was 11 p.m.), What resulted was a big, chaotic, glorious mess that was an
exercise in hilarity.
Actually, calling "Neo-Retro-
Woyzeck" improvisation is mislead-
ing because they were working from
NeoRetroWoyzeck director Robert Knopf s translation of
Performance Network Georg Bdchner's classic tragedy
January 21, 1994 "Woyzeck." Knopf's company of tal-
ented actors mined numerous comic
possibilities from the tale of the meek soldier who murders his cheating lover.
Was up to the audience, however, to tap that lode. From a menu of different
les provided in the programs, audience members shouted out the scenes
they wanted to see.
Thus, we were treated to such "styles" as "The Diceman Cometh," in which
Terry Snowday and Anthony Giangrande played twin, synchronized Andrew
Dice Clays complete with the trademark pseudo-tough-guy inflections and the
leather jacketed shrugs; "The Strangelove Waltz," a takeoff by Clint Bond of
Malcolm Tulip's performance in the Network's recent production of "The
Baltimore Waltz," which was in turn a takeoff of the mad doctor in "Dr.
Strangelove"; and "Soap Opera," in which Danielle Quisenberry alternated
between emoting shamelessly and diving to the floor to leaf through her script
*d reapply her lipstick.
Through it all, Donald McManus as the title character, gamely kept up with
the antics of his costars. He sometimes played straight man and at other times
turned in strange, out-there performances. For instance, in "Kabuki or Samurai
Pawnbroker" he traded karate moves and strange noises with Snowday.
McManus, and the rest of the cast as well, stretched every performance to the
outer limits and left everything to chance.
That's not to say there weren't problems. A mess, no matter how glorious,
must have some faults. One of these was the abundance of University Theatre
Department in-jokes, which I probably should have expected since the cast
as composed entirely of personnel from the program.
. "Po-Mo Movement Theatre or Vladimir Does Pinter" went over well on
Friday because the majority of the audience was in the department, but if future
spectators didn't see the University's 1992 production of "The Birthday
Party," (or even if they did but don't remember that Vladimir Mirzoev directed
the show) the scene will fall flat on its face. Ditto for "Bert Meets the Blue
Men," which hinges on a dead-on impersonation of a certain professor in the
Theatre Department.
"Neo-Retro-Woyzeck" might also pose difficulty for those who do not
know Bichner's play because Knopf's format, and to an extent, Bilchner's
script, subvert the storyline and obscure motive. For example, in a truly
,hilling last scene, McManus as Woyzeck killed his lover (Lauren Odar).
Someone who has not read the play might not know why he is doing so because
it could not really be deduced from the rest of the performance that she was
having an affair. Then again, the murder and the show itself, might have been
explained in Eric Black's line at the end: "This is a person! A human being!
But still an animal. A beast."
And then again, maybe plotline and character development do not particu-
larly matter here. So if you are going to see "Neo-Retro-Woyzeck," which is
running another weekend, it might be a good idea to find a copy of the play and
read it beforehand. But if you can't find one go anyway and just sit back and

Worshipped movie idols, Daniel Day-Lewis and Emma Thompson star together in Jim Sheridan's "In the Name of the Father."
'Father' captures the human spirit

Jim Sheridan's new film, "In the Name of the
Father," is a brilliant exploration of anger and
frustration. Such emotional intensity provides the
perfect backdrop for a touching struggle between
father and son, their gripping effort to confront the
injustices dealt them and the opportunity for the
audience to simultaneously adopt their cause.
Even without complete understanding of the
In the Name of the Father
Written and directed by Jim Sheridan; with
Daniel Day-Lewis and Pete Postlewaite.
historic conflicts between the Catholics of North-
ern Ireland and the official Irish government,
sufficient background for the plot and instant
insight into Daniel Day-Lewis' character, Gerry,
is established in the action-packed opening scene
on the streets of Belfast, Ireland, 1974. Without a
delay in the pace of the film, Gerry flees to London
to escape the danger of Belfast and enjoy the drugs
and free love of a hippie commune. This change of
scenery serves to further the introduction ofGerry's
character, as Sheridan reminds the viewer that he
is more likely to wear the bell-bottoms of an
unemployed hippie than the pants of an Irish
Republican Army terrorist. Similarly, the carefree
attitude and complete freedom of the hippie

lifestyle serves an ironic pre-cursor to the unde-
served imprisonment he will soon face.
Having returned to Belfast, Gerry, naked and
pitifully vulnerable in his sleep, is abruptly wak-
ened and dragged to London and accused of bomb-
ing a London pub and killing five people in the
name of the IRA. As Gerry is severely tortured
into signing a confession for a crime he didn't
commit, Lewis' superb handling of the character
is showcased. Within the sterility and harshness
of Sheridan's green lighting, the interrogation
process becomes gradually more infuriating, and
skillfully culminates with Gerry's mental col-
lapse following a threat against his father's life.
The strength of Day-Lewis' performance con-
tinues into the courtroom. Gerry and his peers,
now joined by his father and other wrongly ac-
cused family members, face the absurdity of the
accusations and the reality of 30 years in prison as
the audience marvels at the fact that "In the Name
of the Father" is a true story.
Surpassing any "L.A. Law" drama, the mood
Sheridan creates within the courtroom pays jus-
tice to the level of anxiety experienced by the
accused. Overhead shots of the entire court point
to the ridiculous dress of the British law and the
immense unlikelihood of common men winning
against the determination of a frustrated govern-
At the turning point in both their lives as
individuals and as father and son, Gerry and

Guiseppe's imprisonment can be seen as the film's
Part II. The audience is closely guided through
their evolution as prisoners, as both Day-Lewis
and Postlewaite seem to adapt to prison life along
with their characters. Sheridan skillfully trans-
forms the isolation of the prison into an atmo-
sphere as complex as the London commune or the
traumatized streets of Belfast while manipulating
time in order to simulate the monotony and waste-
fulness of 15 years in prison.
Through most of the prison stay, it appears that
Gerry has chosen to accept his fate. But as
Guiseppe dies, Gerry poignantly understands that
the last fifteen years of his father's life will have
been spent in prison. The film moves to its climax
as Gerry, working with a devoted lawyer (Emma
Thompson) to reveal the elaborate cover-up that
led to his victimization, dramatically recaptures
the anger and the enthusiasm that prison and
injustice took away .
Of course the victims' scars tell the final story,
but the concluding trial scene would have been a
more impressive finale had Sheridan placed greater
emphasis on the lawyer's investigation; by sacri-
ficing some of the socialization of prison life, it's
possible that Sheridan could have done so. But
faults aside, "In the Name of the Father" is an
inspiration and tribute to strong wills in terms of
filmmaking and the human spirit.

Go Your Own Way
Sub Pop
Seaweed does two covers on this
disc, and two of their own ditties. "Go
Your Own Way" sounds as if it is
meig sung by product of Eddie Money
B an Adams donating their DNA
to a mad laboratory. The song is from
our dark musical history and it comes
out covered in the vile trappings of
the early to middle '80s, as is the non-
cover "Losing Skin".
On the other hand, "Card Tricks"
and the Jonathon Richman song "She
Cracked" feature some real good
rellin' and wailin' even if the music
ehind them is a little too trebly for its
own good (even with a bass boost).
The overall production is very slick
- to a fault, in fact. Didn't anyone
tell Seaweed that Sub Pop bands are
supposed to be grungy? Ah, it doesn't
matter, it still sounds fine in its little
district between ambiance and rock.
And besides, the Me Decade wasn't
all that bad.
-Ted Watts
David Gray
A Century Ends
Picture the passion of Van
Morrison and the lyricism of Bob
Dylan, the economy of Elvis Costello
and the conviction of Billy Bragg and
en imagine it all bound in the rough
'wackage of a 24-year-old Welsh
folksinger and his debut album "A
Century Ends."David Gray, with little

fanfare, has quietly released one of
the best examples of what a man can
do with an acoustic guitar and plenty
of fire.
The title track is an excellent in-
troduction to his ability, as Gray holds
together a series of apocalyptic im-
ages ("streams of melting glass / sheets
of butchered facts") set in a world
where "honesty is still out of fash-
ion," with his soaring voice and obvi-
ous belief in what he is singing. In
"Birds Without Wings," he rails con-
vincingly against a society that is
"guilty of neglect and disrespect /
And thinking small." "Gathering
Dust," meanwhile, finds him in a much
more contemplative mood as he muses
"I don't know where I'm wanting to
be / I just know I have to be there
Admittedly, the shoes of Van and
Bob are mighty large ones to try to
fill, but Gray walks in them both com-
petently and admirably. It is always a
pleasant surprise to watch an artist
burst onto the scene already sounding
as aged and confident as anyone with
four or five albums under his belt and
Gray is certainly one such musician.
- Dirk Schulze
See RECORDS, Page 8

IN THE NAME OF THE FA THER is playing at

SiX Degrees'tranfers well from stage to screen

Turning a Broadway play into an
accessible film is like turning a French
novel into an American paperback;
it's a hell of a lot easier to read, but a
Six Degrees Of
Directed by Fred Schepisi; written by
John Guare; with Stockard Channing,
Will Smith and Donald Sutherland.
lot can get lost in the translation. Not
so with "Six Degrees of Separation."
Unlike "Prelude to a Kiss," "Sexual
Perversity in Chicago," (which be-
came "... about last night") or even
"A Chorus Line," this film, based on
John Guare's award-winning 1990
play, manages to stay true to itself in
spite of its inevitable, celluloid meta-
Why this work is able to succeed
where other plays-to-films have failed
is mostly due to the producers' com-
mitment to retaining many of the ele-
ments that made it-such an intriguing,

amusing and insightful play to begin
with - namely, the writer and lead
actor. Yet, it is also unusually en-
hanced by the inclusion of new faces,
a new director and the range of possi-
bilities that film as a medium can
offer. However, the play does not
benefit from the kind of immediacy
that film can offer. Ironically enough,

immediacy is the one thing the movie
lacks. There is just a certain efficacy
in watching characters talk directly to
their audience that simply can't be
supplemented by watching them talk
casually to their friends - not when
they're telling you a story as interest-
ing as this one. But the delayed effect
is minor, so sit back and get ready

'cause this is a good one and suppos-
edly true, as well.
A wealthy, New York couple, the
elegant Ouisa (Stockard Channing)
and her art-dealer husband Flan
(Donald Sutherland) are in the early
stages of one of the most important
See DEGREES, Page 8



3 - 5 pm, January 24, 1994
Michigan Union, Kuenzel Room


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