10 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, October 21, 1994
Acting and humor make 'Zevi' enjoyable
By DAVID M. GRAHAM
Slapstick philosophy? "Sabbatai
Zevi" has it, all courtesy of a manic-
depressive comedian/messiah. This
new play by Brook Ziporyn depicts the
life of the 17th-century pseudo mes-
siah, fromhis forcedrevelation ofmes-
sianic status to his apostasy and even-
October 19, 1994
Zevi offers a difficult challenge for any
actor because he has two distinct per-
sonalities: a bombastic messiah and a
confused, depressed creature who no
longer can remember why he used to be
a messiah. Herman plays a very well-
rounded Zevi, including an amazing
fast-speaking messiah. However, the
incessant whining of the non-messi-
anic half of Zevi is grinding and diffi-
cult to listen to all night long. Herman
is appropriately dressed for the part in
an old red bed-robe with a beard and a
large afro. This getup provides the per-
fect image for Sabbatai Zevi: the fresh-
Playing second and third to Sabbatai
Zevi are Nathan of Gaza (Gabriel
Regentin) and Jakob Frank (Dan
Messinger). Nathan is Zevi's egotisti-
cal prophet and the backbone behind
the mass Sabbataian movement.
Through smooth talking in every situ-
ation, Nathan coerces many people into
believing that Sabbatai Zevi is themes-
siah, including Sabbatai Zevi himself.
Jakob Frank acts as a sort of narra-
tor, since he was not born for a century
after Sabbatai Zevi's lifetime. In his
role as the narrator, Jakob speaks di-
rectly to the audience and interacts
with the other characters to keep the
Both Regentin and Messinger do
well in their roles as Nathan and Jakob.
These two, along with Herman, create
aforceful male trio that is fascinating to
All of the action takes place on a set
colored and lit black and white: pure
white lights shine on a black backdrop
over a black stage set with white stone
steps. This harmonizes with the dialec-
tics illuminated throughout the play:
good vs. evil, contradiction vs. sense,
and the split personality of Zevi.
These dialectics seem to be the pri-
mary philosophical concern of play-
wright Ziporyn. Whether he is able -.
or even tries-to provide a solution to
these questions can only be answered
by the individuals of the audience.
Ziporyn, however, often becomes
caught up in tangents which cause the
specific philosophical arguments
present in the play to suffer.
Philosophy and religion are only a
part of "Sabbatai Zevi." The play's
also has comical moments which are
mostly bizarre or slapstick in style.
Perhaps the most brilliant and certainly
the most funny scene of the play arises
when we meet the revered prostitute
and soon-to-be-messiah's-wife, Sarah
(Carrie Keranen). Though hidden be-
hind a screen that shows only naked
ankles and feet, Sarah and Nathan en-
gage in polite conversation and a hilari-
ous series of sexual acts that must be
seen in person to appreciate. Keranen,
when she finds clothing and takes her
place as messiah's wife, adds immea-
surably to the play.
Perhaps the best feature of"Sabbatai
Zevi" is the vocalization skills exhib-
ited by the cast. Different voices and
inflections augment the acting and make
certain scenes (such as those where the
ensemble gossips about the messiah)
work extremely well. Kudos to not
only to the cast for a good show, but
also to their director, Rob Sulewski.
SABBATAI EVI runs tonight and
Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 7
p.m. at the RCAuditorium in East
Quad. Tickets are $5 ($3 students),
and are available at the door.
tual death. "Sabbatai Zevi" provides a
wonderful opportunity to show off a
versatile and talented cast, explore
philosophical ideas and share a few
Many of these moments are cour-
tesy of Jeffry Herman, who plays an
energetic Sabbatai Zevi. He certainly
should sleep well after all the exercise
he gets on and off the stage (like when
he climbs overseveral rows of chairs in
order to harass the audience). Sabbatai
"Sabbatai Zevi" is just another slapstick comedy about philosophy.
Gen-X authors find
inspiration in b eer
By KIRK MILLER
Cowan found inspiration in
"It was July of '92," the 29-year-
old writer explained over the phone.
"We (co-author Rob Nelson and Jon)
were going to go to grad school. One
day we were sitting around having a
brew, trying to decide whatto do. Ev-
eryone wanted to do something ... but
no one was."
At this point the two friends de-
cided to ditch higher education and
form their own political organization,
Lead or Leave, a move that seemed to
lack any coherent thought. Two years,
25,000 members, appearances on MTV
and a cover of Time Magazine later,
Cowan and Nelson have become sur-
pisingly visible and popular with both
tle mainstream media and college stu-
Spurred on by their success, they
have just released their own political
agenda in the form of the new trade
paperback "Revolution X," which
nakes the startling claim as the "Sur-
vival Guide For Our Generation."
Cowan recently left the Lead or Leave
headquarters to on a small promotional
topr to stir up interest in the upcoming
elections and defend his book title.
""We have to cut through the Gen-,
eration X labels and political apathy,"
he claimed. "Our generations will be
facing serious problems." Among the
several the book points out are the
enormous national debt, the doubtful
fiure of Social Security and the lack of
attention politicans pay to students. It's
nqt exactly the stuff usually considered
worthy of political riots and inspira-
tional movies, but Cowan thinks the
book will have an effect.
"Our generation could be the most
important voting block," he said. "We
can break the myth that young people
can't change politics." He adds that
most young people today are economi-
cally conservative and socially moder-
ate, two ideas he stresses in the book.
It's heavy on economic reform and
social equality, presenting ideas as
"postpartisan," or lacking the political
baggage that has forced Congress into
However, for him the key is just to
be heard, not to follow one person's
opinion. "The book is our personal
agenda," he admitted, noting that it is
not supposed to represent the views of
Lead or Leave. The most important
idea is involvement.
"The book is for those who don't
vote or participate," he stressed. "We
can knock down a wall on our society.
But if you sit on the sidelines, every-
thing gets decided by somebody else."
Along with the new book Cowan
and Lead or Leave are trying to start a
grassroots campaign to register stu-
dents to vote when they register for
classes. Their efforts have been lauded
by Senator Bill Bradley (one of
Cowan's political idols) and by MTV
News. Despite the generational stereo-
typing, thelast one didn'tdistub Cowan
at all; in fact, he found it very inspira-
"Hey, I think it's cool Tabita Soren
has a voice in our generation," he
JON COWAN was supposed to be at
Borders tonight. He cancelled. It's a
slacker thing, you wouldn't under-
Authors Jon Cowan' and Rob Nelson: Beavis and Butt-head for intellectuals
How to fit into
By KIRK MILLER
What if we reduced the entire po-
litical system down to an MTV spe-
cial? The self-proclaimed "Survival
Guide For Our Generation" at first
looks like one big Tabitha Soren ghost-
written handbook. Rock the vote! The
music revolution starts here! Kurt will
rise and lead the children! The first
chapter is titled "Unplugged;" does
this give you a hint of what is to come?
OK, it's not that bad. Actually, as a
primer for the politically uninformed
"Revolution X" is quite handy. The
statistical data on social security, gov-
ernment spending and anti-poverty
policy are easier to understand than
any textbook on the subject, without
oversimplifying the processes.
The book is divided into seven chap-
ters, interspersed with small factoids
like debt statistics and quotes from
various twentysomethings. Some of it
is justcliched generation postering. "A
generation that reads 'Details' and
'Spin,' watches 'Melrose Place,'
'Seinfeld,' and 'The Simpsons,' and
waits in line for the StairMaster after
work is probably not going to be taking
to the streets with guns or Molotov
cocktails anytime soon," the authors
claim, perhaps forgetting the L.A. riots
and assuming that we are all white and
What's worse are the comments
from our generation thrown in for no
apparent reason; all we get are random
first names and ages of people who
apparently represent our entire genera-
tion. "AIDS ... is starting to affect the
mainstay of the population: the adoles-
cents, heterosexuals, and increasingly
teenagers, " claims "Rick," who as a
29-year-old actor is the perfect person
to dissect a life-threatening disease. It
might have been nice to show what the
average twentysomething thinks, but
the authors destroy their original intent
of defending our generation by making
us into whiny brats.
Despite all of the stereotyping and
simplification of the political process,
the book works entirely through the
earnestness of the authors. It really
does have some great information on
how to get involved, the impact of
voting and the first accurate and simple
explanation of the US budget defecit.
Statistics such as "less than 12 percent
of total federal benefits go to those at
near or at the poverty line" are not
bogged down in scholastic rhetoric,
but allowed to speak for themselves.
Cowan and Nelson mightstraddle a
fine line between being seriously con-
trived and achieving Gump-like ear-
nestness, but fortunately the general
"we can make a difference" theme holds
up over the lame attempts to be hip.
Continued from page 9
pop music's greatest mysteries.
Of course, subtle gimmicks are not
the only things thatthe WeddingPresent
execute brilliantly. Tracks like "Click
Click" and "Hot Pants" show off the
Wedding Present's usual talent forcom-
ing up with the perfect guitar riff to
base a song around.
However, "Watusi" is not without a
few flaws. Near the end of the album,
the acoustic strum-along "Big Rat"falls
more than a little flat, and "Catwoman"
would be almost completely lost if not
for David Gedge's campy crooning.
These are minor problems, how-
ever, and nearly every other track on
"Watusi" is a pure winner. No matter
how much the Wedding Present change
their sound and style around, they al-
ways seem to hang on to their bizarre
outlook on pop music that keeps their
material consistently satisfying.
-- Andy Dolan
Nick Cave and the
Let Love In
Nick Cave has never been much of
one for restraint or for doing things
halfway. From his days with the thrash-
happy, country-goth outfit the Birth-
day Party to his present incarnation as
a crooning solo artist backed by the
Bad Seeds, Cave has revelled in the
glory of true, over-the-top insanity. His
latestalbum, "Let Love In," opens with
the moody "Do You Love Me?" in
which Cave relates how he found and,
inevitably, lost his "lady of the Various
Sorrows." From there, Cave tackles
the subject of love from different angles,
backed always by a perfect mix of
organs and guitars. Gone are the elabo-
rate string arrangements of "The Good
Son" and "Henry's Dream." He sings
the exquisite "Nobody's Baby Now"
as if Sinatra was listening in, growls
through the nightmarish "Jangling
Jack" as if his life depended on it and
begs for forgiveness in the rough and
wonderful "Thirsty Dog." When he
finally pulls out all ofthe stops for "Lay
Me Low," it becomes clear why Cave
is the ultimate showman for today: his
tales of the down-and-out come from
inside of him. He may not be Jangling
Jack but when the dark tale forces its
way from his soul, he might as well be.
That's conviction and Cave has plenty
of it. His catalogue is by no means short
on brilliant recordings and "Let Love
In" is easily one of his best.
- Dirk Schulze
What a disappointment. From Scott
Morgan and Scott Asheton, two musi-
cians who have evidently seen better
days, comes Scots Pirates - a boring,
bluesy rock mess that, frankly, I can't
I mean Scott Morgan was in the
Rationals - a great '60's garage rock
band - and Scott Asheton was in the
Stooges for Christ's sake. Can't they
do better than a bad bar-band that gets
better the drunker you get? I guess not.
Schoolkids Records has something
great going - a label for the veterans
who have paid their dues, both local
and national acts. But if the veterans
sound like this, why bother? We aren't
looking for the next cutting edge band
of the moment like the Offspring or
other such flatulence, just some good
rock 'n' roll from musicians that have
been jamming in four decades, and
should know what soul is by now.
We don't want kickdrums or sing-
a-longchoruses, blueprintblues orkey-
board breaks -just some soulful rawk.
In some cases, the Scots Pirates have
just that. "Sugarcane" is a prime ex-
ample - the riff is simple and direct,
and the song is tight and rumbling.
Overall, however the energy on this
recording is lacking.
- Matt Carlson
Smilin' Buddha Cabaret
The title "Smilin' BuddhaCabaret"
should be warning enough that listen-
ing to thelatest54.40CD will beequiva-
lent to spending an hour searching des-
perately for your inner child.
"Deschooling grind breeds unrest /
adult children get depressed," vocalist
Neil Osborne philosophizes on the first
track, titled (what else?) "Blame Your
Parents." From there, the album weaves
a fuzzy guitar trail of psychoanalysis,
culminating in "Save Yourself," his
ode to monogamous relationships. "I'm
not not not not giving more /'cause it's
not not not not enough / save yourself
for me," he pleads to the evil, self-
esteem bashing object of his love.
Aside from the lyrics, 54.40's sound
is also in an endless quest for identity.
"Radio Luv Song" features almost
Metallica-like thrash guitar, but the
band scales down the instrumentals for
a more relaxed, trippy sound on
"Daisy." Osborne's "I'm a rock star"
scream makes the beginning of "Be-
yond the Outsider" sound like some-
thing off an old Van Halen album.
The combination of 54.40's alter-
nating manic drum beats and slower,
"classic rock" elements is actually what
makes "Smilin' Buddha Cabaret"
unique and worthwhile. Unlike some
other bands whose songs run one into
another, 54.40 manages to slam their
sound home by varying the style and
tempo of the music on each track.
Besides, once you become mired in
the band's philosophical ramblings ...
you're too busy "searching for self' to
- Kari Jones
The Department of Philosophy
The University of Michigan
THE TANNER LECTURE ON HUMAN
Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology
Professor of Public Affairs,
Woodrow Wilson School of Public
and International Affairs
THE COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY OF
CONSEQUENCES AND MORAL INTUITION
Friday, October 21, 4:00 p.m.
Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre,
Michigan League, 911 North University
SYMPOSIUM ON THE TANNER LECTURE
Professor of Economics and Ethics
University of Bristol
VO A A Tif'%VQ TT A A AA I
INTERNATIONAL GRADUATE STUDENTS
If you would like to live in the U.S.A. after graduation but cannot,
perhaps your future lies in Canada.
CANADIAN IMMIGRATION OPPORTUNITIES for graduates with
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