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October 10, 1994 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1994-10-10

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TS

The Michigan

'Sentences' successfuly speaks to 'Life'
The Group Theatre's first production is visionary in their techniques

By J. DAVID BERRY
The Group Theatre of Michigan is
the newest kid on Ann Arbor's the-
ater block. Primarily made up of fac-
ulty from the University's Depart-
Lie
Sentences
Trueblood Theatre
October 6, 1994
ment of Theatre and Drama, the Group
gives instructors an outlet for their
talent in performance and produc-
tion. The Group's first endeavor, Ri-
chard Nelson's "Life Sentences" is
an intriguing look at relationships
through the eyes of a very unconven-
tional couple.
"Life Sentences"'s focus is on
Burke (Leigh Woods), a 44-year-old
tenured English professor, and Mia
(Cecilia T. Grinwald), his 24-year-
old high school drop out girlfriend.
While the main conflict comes from
Mia's attraction to a Polish lecturer
visiting their home and Burke's sub-
sequent jealousy, the "meat and pota-
toes" of the piece lies in the couple's
difficulty maintaining a relationship
that could just as easily be father and

daughter as husband and wife. there are different shades to his love. several different
The play is a series of monologues, Mia is a breath of fresh air upon her office, a den, a kit
the first act belonging to Burke and entrance. Cecilia Grinwald is wonder- compact nature a
the second act belonging to Mia. This ful, and she plays Mia with a truth and mate quality and,
format suits the play very well, as it sincerity that is gripping. We now see scene changes. T
gives the audience a chance to hear Mia, not through Burke's love struck and adds to thet
the "unvoiced" fears, aspirations, and eyes, but through her own thoughts and without being di
viewpoints of each of the characters words. Though she has many of the Following ea
without the guise of politics or pleas- traits Burke heralded, she is no longer a discussion led1
antries. It also gives the audience a a sketch, but a vivacious and living fromtheUoran
chancetolearnof
the characters' Under John Russell Brown's direction, the show
pasts, making it
easier to under- moves along very well. He keeps a light quality
stand where they to the monologues that saves the piece from
are now.
Burke'smain becoming too thick with schmaltz ... and he
problemseemsto also maintains the gravity and importance of
be his disbelief
that someone as each of these character's actions.

t levels including an
tchen and an attic. The
of it all creates an inti-
assists in the speed of
he lighting is realistic
truth of the moments
stracting.
ch production will be
by a professor either
eighboring institution.
The discussion was
created to talk
about the implica-
tions this play has
on a college cam-
pus, and the audi-
ence reactions to
this theme. While I
think the discus-
sion is a good idea,

Department of Theatre and Drama senior Cecilia T. Grinwald and Professor
Leigh Woods in the Group Theatre's production of "Life Sentences."

beautiful as Mia
could possibly love him. He spends the
first few scenes putting her on a pedes-
tal and defending her to us, as though
we would judge her to harshly on our
own. Leigh Woods' biggest challenge
comes from Burke's at times monoto-
nous patter on just how wonderful Mia
is. We want to see this marvelous per-
son and when Mia's entrance is put off
until the second act, some tedious mo-
ments are created. Woods is at his best
when we get to see the more cynical
side of Burke and it becomes clear that

'Shawshank' slowly but surely achieves 'Redemption'

By JOSHUA RICH
Based on the short story "Rita

Dufresne, a New England banker who
is wrongly accused of the murders of

Hayworth and the
demption" by
Stephen King, this
frightening, yet
magical tale of life
in a Maine prison
comes to the big
screen with scenes
of violent abuse
and miracles. Even
though the content
of this film, like so
many other King
stories gone Hol-
lywood, is horrific,

Shawshank Re-

his adulterous wife

7 The Shawshank
Redemption
Directed by Frank Darabont;
with Tim Robbins
and Morgan
Freeman

and her lover in
1947. He is sen-
tenced to two
life terms in
Shawshank
Prison, easily
identifiable as
the most im-
maculate, yet
hellish place on
earth.
What saves
Andy from
breaking under

E

it is not a horror

movie. Instead, "The Shawshank Re-
demption" is a slow-moving, yet pas-
sionate piece of cinema.
Tim Robbins plays Andy

the daily rapes and beatings that over-
take him is his friendship with a man
called Red (Morgan Freeman). Red is
the jail's one-man black market - if
asked for something, no matter what
it is, Red can always get it. The rela-
tionship between these two grows
stronger with each passing year.
Meanwhile, Andy miraculously be-
friends all the guards, the evil war-
den, and any inmate he comes in con-
tact with by donating his accounting
skills or simply sharing his good hu-
mor.
As in the past, Freeman is the true
star of the film, creating a .character
that is real and believable. Robbins,
on the other hand, plays the movie's
centerpiece with clear charm, but noth-
ing else. He never appears totally
happy or sad, but just content with his
surroundings, grimacing with his un-
tainted baby face.
The most unfortunate quality of
this film, however, is its length. For
two and a half hours, the audience is
presented with one dark scene, one
beating, or one long conversation af-
ter another. And even though it even-
tually arrives at an appropriate end,
the journey is frequently painstaking.
Nevertheless, Darabont shines
with his creative direction of this
haunting film. Eerie scenes bring to
life not only the horrors occurring
within the walls of the prison, but also
the horror of the structure itself. At
first, the inmates fear the cold, unin-
viting compound to which they are

condemned. But as they grow more
accustomed to the terrors of life in
jail, the prisoners become strangely
attached to it. This leaves them hope-
less in a place where they despise
their current conditions, yet fear leav-
ing its safe boundaries for an un-
known world outside.
Darabont shines with
his creative direction
of this haunting film.
Eerie scenes bring to
life not only the horrors
occurring within the
walls of the prison, but
also the horror of the
structure itself.
The magic of the movie is the re-
demption noted in its title. Although
one may think that the redeemed is
Andy - who enters an innocent man
and never lets the jail get the best of
him - he is really the redeemer. Only.
after meeting and touching this mys-
terious man do the inmates gain hope.
Like an angel, Andy swoops down
into this hell, enlightens a few souls,
and disappears as fantastically as he

woman with fears, doubts and aspira-
tions. We see the thought behind each
of Mia'sdifficultchoicesandGrinwald
shows remarkable strength and integ-
rity in dealing with the possible conse-
quences to her actions.
Under John Russell Brown's direc-
tion, the show moves along very well.
He keeps a light quality to the mono-
logues that saves the piece from be-
coming too thick with schmaltz. How-
ever, he also maintains the gravity and
importance of each of these character's
actions. In order to keep the scenes
moving from one to another, he inter-
weaves jazz music into the blackouts.
This not only gives us something to
keep our minds off the blackout, but his
music selections seem to represent not
only the situation, but also the charac-
ters themselves.
Also to be commended are Alan
Billing's set design and Stephen Pax's
lighting design. Both of their work is
simple and unobtrusive, perfect for this
piece where it is critical the audience's
focus remains on the characters. The
set is simpl a frame of a home, with
Paul Oakenfold
Journeys by Stadium DJ
Moonshine Records
Journeys by DJ Volume 5.
Journey Through the Spectrum
Music Unites
The best DJ in the world? Depends
upon whom you ask. One of the most
influential DJs in the world? Without a

doubt. Paul Oakenfold, known in Eu-
rope for starting the Acid Jazz craze
and in the US for doing remixing and
DJing for U2, has been captured on two
CDs spinning as only he can. " Oakie"
refuses to be typecast and fills his
records with an array of music that can
only be called ecclectic.
See RECORDS, Page 11

the theme seems
forced. The focus of the show is much
more on the relationship between the
couple and that fact that Burke is a
professor seems secondary at best.
For their effort, the Group Theatre
fares very well. The caliber of perfor-
mance and production is very high,
and it taps into a very valuable and
previously untapped resource - the
theater faculty as performers. Granted,
there have been some productions
that have used faculty, but the Group
Theatre seems to have a higher level
of professionalism and excellence.
The Group's productions should
continue to be entertaining and vi-
sionary in their use of new plays and
techniques. Surely if their other pro-
ductions are on the level of this, the
Group Theatre of Michigan should
prove to be a valuable asset to the Ann
Arbor arts community.
LIFE SENTENCES is playing at the
Trueblood Theatre October 13-15,
20-22 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10, $7
for U-M faculty, $4 with student ID,
at the League ticket office or at the
doo Coll,704-0.50

Freeman

arrived. Touched by the film's pro-
vocative, bizarre nature, audience
members will realize that "The
Shawshank Redemption" slowly does
the same.
THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION
is now playing at Briarwood and
Showcase.

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