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April 03, 1996 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-04-03

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, April 3, 1996 - 9
.Too much talking'Here': Basement Arts' latest production falls flat

By Mitchell Katz
For theDaily
G"rgeand IraGershwin'sclassic song
"Let's Call the Whole Thing Off," in
which a couple fights over the correct
pronUnciation of the words either, nei-
ther, tOmato and oyster, is a wonderful
xampge of how verbal sparring between
1oupes can be worth listening to.
Then again, if the Gershwin brothers
had decided to stretch the song out into
an entire play, it could have gotten
,pretty tiresome.
-This is pretty much the case with
Michael Frayn's "Here," staged by
Basement Arts last weekend. What
should have been a 10-minute acting
exercise was needlessly protracted into
a 90-minute play. It's easy to see why
*Here," which was universally panned
Continued from Page 5
Infernal Love
Well, it certainly took long enough
for this album to be released domesti-
cally. It is a brilliant piece of work.
There have already been three singles
released in Europe from this album.
And with good reason. The sound on
the album is astoundingly good. Singer
Andy Cairns' voice is in fine form,
stretched over some of the finest guitar-
centric music to be produced to this
date by anyone.
* "Infernal Love" begins with some
low vibrations that break into a blister-
ing attack of excitingly arranged gui-
tars in "Epilepsy." Layered with in-
triguing shouts, Cairns's wavy voice
and guitar, drums, bass that has always
been a Therapy? trademark, the song is
far more satisfying than any popular
musicpumped over our radios and TVs
of late.
And the album runs in wonderful
yways. The album is fairly dark.
Songs tend toward the dismal outlook
type. The title should be as much of a
tip-off as anything to that fact. The
guttural horns on "Stories" combined
with the chorus of "Happy people
have no stories" is pretty normative
for the album. Therapy? has teeth,
and they're not afraid to bite into you,
hit the bone and grind away until you
reach a penultimate ecstasy of gut-
*vrenching pain coupled with extreme
enjoyment and profound interest.
The quieter, more introspective songs
on the album create some more subtle
emotions in the listener. "A Moment of
Clarity" gently but adamantly relates a
person's reflections on love, convinc-
ingly drawing in the listener. "Diane,"
a cover song, is as good a song about
obsession as you're goingto find. "Bow-
ls of Love" is a very traditional sound-
4ng ballad, except for the imagery ofthe
vile (like maggots). It's all very much
like a dagger at the base of the neck, but
as a relief from suffering, as opposed to
a tearing away of life.
The album has its up moments, too,
though. "Loose" is a very happy, live-
type of song. The song goes very fast
and makes you love the ride, with its
engaging lyrics and dizzyingly on mu-
ic. The album actually ends on a
positive note as well, with repetition
of the phrase "There is a light at the
end of the tunnel." But from start to
finish, the album should make you
feel like you are listening to some-
thing special. And that's because you

So, go out and buy this disc. Buy 10
copies and give them to your friends.
Buy 100 and give them to people who
'ou like the look of. Make the radio
stations play it. Make MTV show vid-
eos from it. But most importantly, put
it in your music-playing device and
listen to it. The rest should then be
- Ted Watts

in London upon its premiere, never
made it to Broadway, and never should
have made it to Ann Arbor.
"Here" revolves around a couple
named Cath and Phil at two different
stages in their lives:
As a young couple
settling into its first
apartment, and then
as an older couple
moving into a new,
more spacious
apartment. A per-
fect premise for a biting, effective look
at the miscommunication between
couples, right?
The first four lines of the play were
"What." "What." "What." "What." A
good play doesn't necessarily need a
real catchy opening like "It was the best


of times, it was the worst of times," or
"Call me Ishmael," but some strong
dialogue is usually a good way to get
audiences engrossed.
Similar exchanges followed: "I don't
like it." "Yes you
ZEVIEW do." "I don't."
"You do."
Here In another:
"Will it?" "Won't
[rena Theater it?" "I think it
March 29, 1996 will." "It will."
Picture Abbott
and Costello or the Marx Brothers
drained of all humor and personality,
and you'll get a good idea of what an
evening with Cath and Phil is like.
The couple fights over where to move
furniture - hence the "here" in the
play's title. They bicker over such words

as "inauthentic" and "overdetermined."
They fight over a sweater, and about
where some soup is located. The theme
of miscommunication was overplayed
to the point where watching the couple's
pretty hate machinebecame pretty damn
Jaime Saginor and Aric D. Knuth, as
the younger Cath and Phil, and Sophina
Brown and Jonathan Berry as the older
couple, all breathed life into a script that
wouldhave been murderto read. All must
be commended, if not pitied, for memo-
rizing Frayn's impossible dialogue.
All the actors did their best to make
their characters likable. Maybe it
couldn't be done. Cath and Phil came
across as unpleasant, uninteresting char-
acters, the sort that even Spencer Tracy
and Katherine Hepburn couldn't pull

off. Phil says to Cath at one point, "We
don't speak the same language any-
more." To the contrary, both of them
seem to mimic each other's clipped,
boring speech, totally alien to real con-
versation, and one couldn't help but
think that these two really deserved
each other.
It was unclear which couple was play-
ing the older couple and which was
playing the younger couple. That the
younger Cath called the younger Phil a
"dirty old man" didn't help matters.
And as staged by director Allison Tkac,
an uncomfortable foreplay scene be-
tween the younger couple made the
groping of 13-year-olds worldwide look
incredibly expert in comparison.
The third character of the play, Cath
and Phil's downstairs neighbor Pat, was

played humorously and sympathetically
by Ellen Dobrin, who at least had some
real dialogue to work with.
At one point the happy couple de-
cides to settle an argument by physical
force. Mark Alhadeff had the difficult
task of staging fight scenes in this inti-
mate theater atmosphere, and he man-
aged to make them convincing; they
were a welcome break from the droning
For her directorial debut, Tkac picked
an extremely difficult play. It takes a
good director to make a terrible play
bearable. Whatever action there was,
she kept moving, and the complex stag-
ing of having both couples interacting
at the same time was managed with
skill. Still, one has to wonder what
exactly Tkac saw in this play.

Oh sure,

it looks innocent. But it could be

wZed to a no-name company that has no qualms about

overcharging broke

college students.

So, calling card in hand, you dial 1 800 CALL ATT

and save yourself

much-needed cash.


Know the Code. 1800 CALL AT T Thats Your True Choice:"

Therapy? Is happy to be In America.

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