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September 06, 1996 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-09-06

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12 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 6, 1996

Stratford treat lies
just over the border

By J. David Berry
For the Daily
Once you get past Windsor and hop
on the 401, for miles and miles around
all you see is green, rolling farmland.
Then, somewhere in the middle of all of
these cows and ears of corn, a small
town appears. The town looks like it
may be stuck in a better time, and you'd
almost expect to see Andy and Aunt
Bea talking to the barber on the corner,
while little Opie
rolled a hoop
down the street. RI
Yet somewhere, Th
in the midst of all
this small town
splendor, lie three Runni
theaters that hold Cal 1


one of North
America's greatest centers of culture -
the Stratford Festival.
From a tent and some big dreams in
1957, the festival has now grown in
both size and reputation. It is consis-
tently ranked as one of the best English
speaking repertory companies in the
world, and what began in '57 as a six-
week season, has grown into its current
26-week season.
The festival now offers several
Shakespeare productions each season,
coupled with a wide variety of other
plays, including a musical. Selected by
Artistic Director Richard Monette, the
season offers something for everyone,
first time theater-goers and seasoned
veterans alike.
The season is a well-blended combi-
nation of comedy and drama, farce and
tragedy, allowing the theater-goer a
wide range of choices that can cater to
their own personal taste. Similar to a
film multiplex, the season has a good
mix of playwrights.
This years season includes, at the
Festival Theater: "King Lear," "The
Music Man;'"Amadeus" and "The Little
Foxes." At the Avon Theater: "A Fitting
Confusion;" "The Merchant of Venice,"
"Alice Through the Looking Glass" and
"Barrymore." At the Tom Patterson
Theater: "As You Like It;'"Sweet Bird of
Youth" and "Waiting for Godot."
The Festival is very student friendly,
providing discount tickets for all shows.
Prices begin at $26 for students, and

remember, that's Canadian currency.
There are also two-for-one Tuesdays
and Thursdays, and even lower-priced
matinees. Considering the price of tick-
ets for the same caliber show in New
York, Chicago, or even Detroit.
Stratford is the inexpensive alternative
for high-quality theater.
Don't let the Mayberry-like exterior
of the town fool you. Stratford has
some great after-hours offerings that
will keep you
going after the
VIEW show. With that
a Stratford many actors
stuck in the mid-
Festival dle of Canada,
now through Nov. 3. you can bet there
00-567-1600 for info. will be several
good bars. I
found a new one each night I was there,
and it's not uncommon to run into the
actor you just saw up on stage sitting at
the bar and downing a few pints before
they turn in for the night.
Stratford also has several coffee
houses for the intellectuals in your
group, and a wide range of restaurants,
one of which is sure to have what
you're looking for. Unlike other the-
ater cities, Stratford's food prices
remain surprisingly low, and most of
the restaurants will accept mommy or
daddy's plastic.
It is certainly worth the four hour
drive from Ann Arbor to visit one of the
best renowned theater communities in
the world. The shows are uniformly
excellent, and even the town itself has a
lot to offer a university student looking
to get away for a weekend.
The season ends Nov. 3, but has full
offerings until that last weekend. It is
advisable to call ahead for tickets and
accommodations, and the box office
also has booklets with ticket, accom-
modation, and dining information, that
they'd be happy to send out. So,
before the school year crushes your
spirit, take one last summer getaway.
The trip to Stratford will not disap-
This is the first article in a series
that the Daily will be running during
the next week. See our reviews of shows
playing at the Stratford Festival begin-
ning in Monday's paper

Marion Brando is so big that he did not even fit into a standard-sized photo!
Brando's 'Moreau-.' is a
mnonster o a movie

- I

By Ryan Posly
Daily Arts Writer
Exactly 100 years ago, a young,
brash English writer named H.G. Wells
attacked religion and the "establish-
ment" while predicting unimaginable
scientific breakthroughs in the novel
The Island of Dr. Moreau. While Wells
did this continually throughout his life-
The Island of
Dr. Moreau
At Briarwood and Showcase
time, The Island of Dr. Moreau stands
out because it was his least popular and
most widely panned novel. Yet, it is also
the story that survives today as perhaps
Wells' most important and relevant (and
frighteningly realistic) work.
Unfortunately, the latest film adapta-
tion of The Island of Dr. Moreau con-
tains only a smattering of the novel's
original message and impact. Directed
by old pro John Frankenheimer, "The
Island of Dr. Moreau" is first and fore-
most a slick special-effects thriller. But
in focusing primarily on the half-
human, half-animal creatures (which
includes Marlon Brando), the film loses
much of its purpose.
David Thewlis, looking and acting
more like one of the heroin-addicted
boys from "Trainspotting" than a prop-
er English official, plays Edward

Douglas, a U.N. peacekeeper who gets
stranded on a remote island. He is taken
in by a doctor ("actually more like a
vet") named Montgomery (Val Kilmer).
Before long, Douglas discovers that the
island is inhabited by whole villages of
beast-people - the progeny of a guy
called Dr. Moreau and his insane quest
for animal perfection.
Dr. Moreau is, of course, played with
immense gravity by Marlon Brando,
who makes his grand entrance looking
terribly fat and pasty due to some
alleged allergy to the sun. It is unfortu-
nate that Brando has become such a
mockery; his decision to continue to act
despite his obvious loss of the Method
(he was clearly reading lines from cue
cards in "Don Juan Demarco") ruins
our iconic image of him as the buff
Stanley Kowalski. Luckily, Brando is
surprisingly good as Moreau, a man so
caught up in his pursuit of a benign race
of humans that he has developed delu-
sions of himself as a god.
Inevitably, Moreau's experiment
fails. The beast-people that had for so
long been under Moreau's control
revolt, and we all learn that a race of
humans devoid of all evil impulses is
impossible. Douglas also discovers that
he had unwittingly become a part of
Moreau's final experiment, but this fact
is never made clear enough to add to
any suspense that the film might have
been trying to create. Indeed, while our
first few brushes with the beast-people
are somewhat frightening, the suspense


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"Ugh! Your breath stinks!"

or fright-factor is almost completely
gone by the end of the film.
Instead of a slam-bang finale,
Frankenheimer chooses to lay the mes-
sage on pretty thick: No matter how
benign the race, they will unavoidably
notice individual differences among
them and segregate themselves.
Violence is inherent and inescapable;
survival of the fittest rules; the law of
nature cannot be avoided; racism is bad;
"civilized" humans today are no differ-
ent than animals - the message is pret-
ty clear.
The creatures themselves are an
interesting lot. Model and make-up
genius Stan Winston ("Jurassic Park,"
the "Alien" and "Terminator" films) is
responsible for their striking realism
and individuality. Unfortunately, the
computer effects leave something to be
desired; the beast-people's rapid leaping
movements are quite laughable.
While Brando's presence is consider-
able, the film rests substantially on the
shoulders of Thewlis, and for the most

part, he is perfectly capable. Douglas is
the character with whom we need. to
associate, and Thew]is seems to have al
the proper reactions down - horro,
disgust, disbelief, nervousness. Val
Kilmer is also appropriately cast as the
cocky yet brooding Montgomery, who
resorts to drugs in an effort to deal with
the madness of the situation on the
Frankenheimer seems to have been
trying to make two different movies: an
action-filled sci-fi thriller and a charac-
ter-driven parable about the limits
science and the definition of huianity.
He fails, however, at creating a unified
film that can hold our interest. Instead,
"The Island of Dr. Moreau" plays like a
struggle between the two different
movies, finally resting on the perceived
importance of its overwrought message.
But while the final message is lhavy-
handed and obvious, it still makes its
point. And in this age of often mindless
cinema, any film with a message is weV
come. :c

or Sd6.


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