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September 26, 1994 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-09-26

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Performance Network presentation resurrects poet's troubled life

Best known for his collection of
poetry, "Old Possum's Book of Prac-
tical Cats," upon which the Broadway
musical "Cats" is based, T.S. Eliot was
one of the greatest poets of the 20th
century. Hidden, however, from the

Tom & Viv
Performance Network
September 23, 1994

props and set design, and a lovely ren-
dition of this painful story. This show
presents drama at its highest level.
Tom Eliot meets Vivienne Haigh-
Wood when he attends Oxford in 1906.
While he is an American Harvard gradu-
ate with no future plans, she is an
outlandish girl from a wealthy English
family that doesn't appreciate her. Af-
ter quickly eloping, the two begin to
drift apart. Tom is troubled by Viv's
strange behavior, and they cease to
communicate as he becomes closer to
her family than she ever was.
The play moves through the years
with great speed. As Tom's career takes
off, his estranged wife becomes jeal-
ous. Once his biggest fan and assistant,
Viv embarrasses him in public by yell-
ing slurs during his speeches or harass-
ing his colleagues. It was during this
period that Eliot wrote some of his
most powerful work, including his
wartime masterpiece "The Wasteland."
This starkportraitof the lostgeneration
of Europeans following World War I
bares a striking resemblance to this
pathetic man and his difficult mar-

The story's main failure is not in-
corporating how acutely Eliot's mar-
riage problems affected his writing.
Surely such a talented poet would in-
corporate his living woes into his work.
This omission is the only major fault of
the playwright, Hastings, who does a
strong job focusing on Viv's illness as
opposed to her husband's fame.
Though simple, the design of this
production is strong. Consisting of black
and white curtains in the background
and two sofas and a table on stage, the
set is a bit too bare, but nevertheless
practical. Added musical interludes of
Glenn Gould piano pieces and Kiri Te
Kanawa arias provide a nice supple-
ment to the overall feel of the produc-
In a play that depends so much on
its actors' dramatic abilities, all of the
performances are engaging. John Grant
Stokes plays the awkward Eliot with
tremendous restraint. He appropriately
appears confused and heart-broken, and
believably repulsed at the sight of his
insane wife. Viv is aptly portrayed by
Wayne State University graduate
Roxanne Wellington who appears, in

the beginning, to beoveracting as Eliot's
untamed wife. But she is strong at the
end, lending a subtle look into Viv's
depression as she is institutionalized
and forgotten by her family.
The finest performance of the show,
however, is that of Robert Grossman
who plays Viv's eccentric, yet caring
brother Maurice. Like the audience, he
watches his sister deteriorate over time.
He is excited when she frolics about as
an energetic young woman, and then
saddened as she becomes a disturbed
Upon visiting his sister at the end of
the play, Maurice breaks down in tears
when he realizes what a difficult life
Viv has had. It is a fitting finale to a
play that carefully depicts the emotions
and intricacies of a tragic modern ro-
TOM & VIV is playing through
October 2 at Performance Network
(408 W. Washington). Performances
are Thursday through Saturday at 8
p.m. and Sunday at 7p.m. Tickets are
$12 for adults, $9 for seniors and
students, with pay-what-you-can
Thursday. Call 663-0681.

public eye was his troubling marriage
that was as tumultuous as it was enig-
matic. While Eliot wrote poetic mas-
terpieces, his dark relationship with his
disturbed wife was kept secret. Thus
the tragic story of a man struggling for
success as his wife begs for attention
from her family and friends.
Trittico Theater Company's pro-
duction of Michael Hastings' "Tom &
Viv" is a fine show that offers its audi-
ence solid acting performances, simple

John Grant Stokes and Roxanne Wellington's acting sparkles in "Tom & Viv"

I Could the r
It's been said before, so many times
before, but Saturday Night is dead. A
television program has never been more
closely scrutinized than Saturday Night
Live, yet for all of the negative com-
ments the show has garnered, it has
always shown amazing resiliency.
* No longer.
In 1974, the experts said a live
comedy sketch show would never sur-
vive-yet survive it did. SNL turns 20
this year. In 1979, the departure of Dan
Aykroyd and John Belushi to Holly-
wood stardom would no doubt ruin its
greatness - yet Bill Murray led the
other ragtag SNL veterans in one final
glorious season. In 1980, a horribly
unfunny new cast and Charles Rocket's
eloquent pronunciation of "fuck" on
the Weekend Update would no doubt
get the show cancelled - yet SNL
barely survived with Joe Piscopo and
that Murphy kid showing promise.
Then, over the course of ten years,
SNL slowly rebuilt its shattered repu-
Jeru The Damaja
The Sun Rises in the East
Payday Records
You've heard him rapping on Gang
Starr's albums. You heard his single
"Come Clean" and knew you had to
have the album. But now that you actu-
ally have the album, can you condone
what Jeru says?
* Often times albums that have songs
about "the Devil" (a derogatory term
for whites), diatribes against "bitches"
and homophobic lines are not easy to
digest. But Jeru is not about wholesale
negativity, he is speaking from the heart
and a close listen reveals Jeru's true
The song "You Can't Stop the
Prophet" is indicative of Jeru's sym-
*bolic language. Jeru battles the min-
ions of ignorance - hatred, envy and
jealousy - ultimately winning the
battle. Even though the antagonists are

iew season mean the death of SNL?

tation with brilliant new cast members
-Billy Crystal, Martin Short, Dennis
Miller, Jan Hooks, Dana Carvey, Mike
Myers -as well as promising writers.
No season was ever going to be as
funny or fresh as the original cast's five
seasons, but SNL began to show a
steady and relatively high level of hu-
By 1991, Saturday Night had
reached apeak. Millerhad taken Week-
end Update and molded it into the most
cynical, focused and direct SNL news-
cast ever. "Wayne's World" was be-
ginning to take hold of the American
consciousness. And, developed char-
acters like Hans and Franz, the Church
Lady and the Grumpy Old Man deliv-
ered consistent and loud laughs. They
had even started to plan for the future
by featuring young, often hilarious per-
formers like Chris Farley, David Spade
and Adam Sandler.
So, SNL had nowhere to go but up,
right? Sheaw, and monkeys might fly
out of my butt.

As expected, most of the 1986 cast
members had left by last season, leav-
ing only Kevin Nealon and Phil
Hartman to blaze the trail with the
young'uns in tow. But something un-
foreseen happened. The consistency
that had been a trademark of the previ-
ous seven years had been lost.
Sure, there were moments of ge-
nius - like Farley's Matt Foley, the
bumbling motivational speaker who
livesin avan down by theriver; Spade's
sarcastic whine in his "Hollywood
Minute"; or Sandler's musical esca-
pades as Opera Man. But overall, the
laughless sketches outweighed the re-
motely humorous ones.
But, oh, the promise of a new sea-
son. And, oh, the heart-piercing disap-
pointment of lackluster performances
and stale concepts.
The one highlight of Saturday
Night's season premiere, also, unfortu-
nately, illustrated how sorely missed
Phil Hartman's departure will be. The
opening sketch detailed auditions

among cast members for the now-va-
cant role of President Clinton. Farley
did his bumbling routine, Spade did his
1-800-COLLECT bit, Sandler played
a song.
But only Tim Meadows, the only
Black man on the cast, gave an accu-
rately funny impersonation of the Presi-
dent. He quit after a few lines, saying
"I'm not going to get this part, am I?"
Unfortunately, he won't. Meadows as
Clinton might bring some new chuck-
les to the tried and true SNL presiden-
tial impersonation sketches.
New cast members aren't really
very shocking. Rumors flew over the
summerthat at least some ofthe Kids in
the Hall may be appearing on SNL this
year. Oh, what a glorious day that would
be. Unfortunately, they were only ru-
Congratulations should be given to
Lorne Michaels for getting Janeane
Garofalo of "Reality Bites" and "Larry
Sanders" fame. SNL has been missing
See SNL, Page 8

Ahoy maties! After surviving the wreck of "Cabin Boy," Chris Elliott has now
joined the crew of SNL - yet another sinking ship in his illustrious career.
r'WMW --




..3 A's I & & rl .,07A 0% - --"ki

a faithless woman and what could be
interpreted as the white powers sys-
tem, Jeru is rapping about what he
knows and ultimately delivers a posi-
tive, if somewhat cryptic message.
"Ain't the Devil Happy" is another
song which could justifiably be criti-
cized, but in this song, "The Devil" is
more of a symbol for an oppressive
order, not necessarily a white oppres-
sive order. Regardless of race issues,
Jeru stresses that his listeners should
strive to do their best in the face of any
Aside from all political correctness
objections, Jeru's album is nothing short
of slamming. DJ Premier lays down
the fattest beats in the business and
may possibly be the true star of the
album. "Brooklyn Took It" may finally
answer the question of which borough
is the borough.
Unquestionably there are some ob-
jectionable aspects to this album. Of-

ten though, these objectionable aspects
create paradoxes which strengthen the
album. These paradoxes force the lis-
tener to think for themselves; which
ultimately is Jeru's message.
- Ben Ewy
Black Train Jack
You're Not Alone
Roadrunner Records
The metal-edged Black Train Jack
has been recording for a few years now,
but their latest release "You're Not
Alone" is their best album to date, and
could be the shot in the arm the band
needs to break into the mainstream.
Black Train Jack's potent blend of
melodic and upbeat punk metal comes
across fresh and exciting. Songs like
"Handouts" and "Alright Then" groove
with flying guitars and pounding drums.
One of the best tracks on the album
is "The Struggle," which rocks with a
fun feel and a bluesy harmonica solo.

As on the rest of the album, singer (yes,
he really does sing!) Rob wails, trade-
marking the Black Train Jack sound.
Steve Miller's "The Joker" is also
taken to a new level. With slamming
energy, the band does the song justice,
and then some. The pushing rhythm
and intense energy makes the original
version sound weak in comparison.
If the music isn't enough to con-
vince you, the band's latest music video
casts the scabby bike messenger Puck
from MTV's "Real World" as, what
else, a scabby bike messenger. What a
good reason to like a band!
"You're Not Alone" is a refreshing
and basically great album, and one of
the best hard rock albums released in
the past year. Black Train Jack has the
talent and also the energy many hard
rock bands today lack. Hopefully they'll
be able to do something with it.
-Brian A. Gnatt
See RECORDS, Page 8

Take this quiz:
When is the next special occasion with your certain someone?



a) The V-M vs. Penn State football game
b) The next episode of 90210
c) Sweetest Day

If you answered: (a), then ask Gary Moeller to marry you.
(b), then you need to get out of the house!
(c), then you are as sweet as sugar! Prove that you are with a:

on The Michigan Daily Classified Pages!
Declare your love for only $1.00 per line (3 lines min. please). Your message will be
published Friday, October 14. Deadline is 5 p.m., Wednesday, October 12.
Look out for the form in upcoming issues.






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