The Michigan Daily - Monday, December 9, 1996 - 9A
'Burn This' sets hearts ablaze
By Christopher Tkaczyk
Daily Arts Writer
Sheer awe is what most of the audi-
ence must have felt after they walked
away from taking in director Allison
Tkac's ingenious presentation of
Landford Wilson's "Burn This." The
play was a comedic drama whose main
themes covered the process of grieving
personal losses as well as the hardships
of living as a creative artist. The
strongest aspect of the show came from
the powerful and
mances given by 'R
the strong actors,
all of whom are
School of Music
of the play
ascends to the lofty New York City
apartment where Anna (Kelly King
Simpson), a choreographer of modern
dance, is dealing with the loss of her
former friend and roommate, Robby
(whose life as a homosexual dancer
went unnoticed by his own family).
Anna has a rich, would-be fiance
named Burton, who is played with
human realism by Jonathan Baker.
Larry, Anna's other roommate, was
played hilariously by musical theater
senior Matt Schicker, who provided
most of the play's comic lines. A vol-
cano of dramatic energy can be found
in Alex Alioto, whose character of Pale
(older brother of the deceased Robby)
was played beyond perfection with fast-
paced thinking and spouting of random
thoughts and irkings.
In a very emotional scene performed
brilliantly by Simpson and Alioto, Pale
and Anna descend into the binds of love
based on depression and confusion.
After spending the night together, Pale
leaves her, and all is forgotten until he
appears at her door on the following
New Year's Eve - while Burton and
Anna are pursuing a romantic adven-
ture themselves. The secret of the one
night stand comes out into the open,
and Burton becomes enlightened to the
sad triangle of love.
One special scene, in which Anna
details staying the night at Robby's par-
fly collection to the
ents house after
explains how she
stayed in a room
where a young
pinned his butter-
wall. Although he
When he's not accepting Oscars, Anthony Hopkins woos.
Talented Anthony Hopkins
survives inconsistent 'Picasso'
thought the bugs were dead, they only
had been anesthetized by the rubbing
alcohol, and not completely killed.
During the night, Anna woke up to the
sound of the walls flapping as the now
awake butterflies were trying to escape.
Symbolic of the way in which an artist
is caught in his personal art, this scene
attempts to demonstrate Anna's emo-
tional state after going through Robby's
Each performer provided a different
aspect of the show's success. Schicker's
best moments came when his sarcasm
was voiced after very emotional scenes.
His best and most flamboyant scene was
one in which Anna learns that Larry had
been listening to their entire conversa-
tion as he danced around the apartment
singing "I'd Rather Be Blue" a la Barbra
Streisand in "Funny Girl." This situation
makes fun of the way in which Pale had
sung a line from the song to Anna on
their first night together.
Baker's interpretation of the intelli-
gent and charming Burton proved very
admirable, but the one bad choice made
within the show unfortunately comes
with the arrival of his character. Clad in
awfully tacky multicolored bicycle
shorts, Burton's entrance seemed more
of a clownish introduction, than to the
sophisticated writer that he proved to be.
The ugly shorts did not seem to be a
characteristic choice that Burton would
make, and while it didn't add to his char-
acterization, it did contradict with the
persona that he was trying to establish.
Alioto is an acting powerhouse,
whose timing was never off during the
show. One would assume that an actor
would jumble his lines with all that Pale
has to say, but Alioto delivered them
swiftly and deftly as he attacked all that
Pale's mind jumps to.
The characterization of Anna did not
seem like an easy task to conquer, but
Simpson handled the job quite well.
While being funny as well as powerful-
ly emotional, her Anna proved to be the
most endearing character within the
play. Her sexy, yet sometimes tearful
performance kept the hearts of all these
in the audience falling in love with the
way in which she captured both Pale's
and Burton's hearts.
It is not going too far to say that this is
one of the best student productions to be
presented on campus in quite a long
time. Hopefully, audiences will come
away from this show understanding the
amount of personal experience that
artists put into their work. And, likewise,
we should appreciate the mountain of
talent that the University students who
contributed to this show possess.
By Prashant Tamaskar
Daily Arts Writer
The latest from the famed Merchant / Ivory production
team, "Surviving Picasso" deals with the tumultuous 10-year
elationship between the renowned artist and Francoise Gilot,
the only woman to break the emotional stronghold that the
legendary figure had on the opposite sex.,
The film begins just after the German occupation of
France during World War II, when an aging Picasso (Anthony
Hopkins) meets Francoise (Natascha McElhone), a universi-
ty student who paints in her spare time. After inviting her to
his studio to see his work, it isn't long before Francoise
moves in with Picasso, whose popular-
ity and ego are at an all-time high due
flo his crafty resistance to the Nazi R E
regime. Slowly, she is exposed to the
artist's unique world, full of women 9urv
who, although forsaken by Pablo,
remain disturbingly devoted.
The strong-willed Francoise is deter-
mined not to suffer the same fate. But
after bearing two of his children, her dependence on him
increases until she is nearly in the same situation as the oth-
ers. The rest of the movie deals with Francoise's struggle to
continue to love the artist - without letting him completely
reck her life.
Perhaps remaining true to real life, "Surviving Picasso"
paints a rather unflattering portrait of one of the true giants of
the art world. The artist is presented as a misogynous, game-
playing monster, willing to ruin the lives of others for his own
Essentially, all the women that Picasso becomes involved
with are enslaved. Initially, he invites them into his life, and
then he destroys their ties with the outside world until all they
have left is him. Once this has happened, he tosses them
aside, changing women about as often as he changes the style
f his art.
Yet Picasso's former lovers remain hopelessly loyal to him.
Although he is extremely demanding of them, and he rarely
oflers them any compensation (financially or otherwise) in
return, they are willing to do anything for him. Tragically,
they live only to serve him.
The focus on Picasso's relationships proves to be fascinat-
ing, and this is a major strength of the film. But the movie's
incomplete presentation of this theme prevents it from really
setting itself apart from other biographical works.
Unfortunately, director James Ivory never offers us the
opportunity to understand Picasso. We never get a real sense
of the manipulative artist. The questions concerning why he
hates everyone so much and why he has such a strong hold
over women are left unanswered.
Author Anshaw explores tale between the lines
At the State Theater
has many of the same attributes as
Richard Nixon, the last historical fig-
ure played by the Academy Award-win-
ning actor. His Picasso, however, does
not have the complexity of Nixon's
character. Moreover, Hopkins takes
quite a while to really get into his role.
But when he does, he is particularly
effective, especially at displaying
Picasso's mood swings.
If you are looking for a novel that takes you on a literary
rollercoaster ride - with a steady building of plot culminat-
ing in a rich and penetrating climax - then this is not your
book. Anshaw's "Seven Moves" is not a story that is painted
out in bold black letters - it is the tale that lies between the
lines, the allegory that remains untold in literal terms that
makes her work so captivating. Anshaw's stylistic way of
making even the most guarded reader fall in love with her
often poignant writing is the key to appreciating her work.
When you first open the book and let your eyes peruse the
beginning pages, you begin to conceptualize what Anshaw is
trying to portray in the central characters. Even as you delve
into the myriad interconnecting stories, page by page, you
already know what the author is going to do with it. The story
is gift-wrapped with translucent paper - you know what's
See BOOKS, Page 1OA
Francoise is a well-developed character, whose resiliency
serves as the perfect weapon to combat Picasso's manipula-
tive malice. McElhone, despite an occasional poor line read-
ing, is able to capture the essence of a woman who is very
much in love with Picasso; at the same time, though, she
understands that she must keep her distance in order to sur-
As one should expect from the heralded Merchant / Ivory
team, "Surviving Picasso" is beautifully photographed, with
colorful costumes and paintings, and a combination of lush,
energetic backdrops with dark, morose sets.
Yet in the end, what separates other Merchant / Ivory suc-
cesses like "A Room With a View," "Howards End" and "The
Remains of the Day" from this latest effort is an overall lack
of passion. Unable to completely get at the soul of the main
character, "Surviving Picasso" functions more as a well-
filmed documentary of the relationship between Picasso and
Francoise Gilot, and less as an intense, emotional historical
Tomorrow will be the last issue of the Daily for the term.
We'll return on Jan. 8, 1997.
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