The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, January 28, 1997"- 9
Labor Day' triggers laughter, tears
By Tyler Patterson
For the Daily
For many, the Labor Day holiday is a
chance for rest and relaxation. For the
two couples in Kim Carney's original
play, the Purple Rose Theater Company's
latest production, "Labor Day," is a sin-
gle night on which
the hopes and fears
of happiness tenta-
Directed by the The
Regan, who also Through March
designed the sound
for this production, "Labor Day" unfolds
like a good detective story. The tensions
and conflicts among the two couples
furtively reveal issues that far outweigh
the average Labor Day vacation.
First there is Ginny (Terry Heck) and
Ron (Jim Porterfield), a married couple
who annually spends Labor Day week-
end at the Aunt Lily's Wayward Pines
River Lodge ont
8, 1997. Call 475-7902.
the Muskegon River.
Ron's paranoia at
ahead to answer the
phone and her
ness arouse suspi-
cion that there is
more to this mar-
Sanville), are spending the night in order
to get some work done for their business.
Though there is much about "Labor
Day" that is good - the dialogue is
often funny, the set (designed by
Bartley H. Bauer) is intricately con-
structed and the end of the first act has
quite a wonderful twist - the second
act has its share of problems. Much of it
is somewhat fantastical, taking away the
sincere realism Carney must have
labored to create before that point.
The story, however, unravels in the
second act without much chance of sur-
vival. What began as a string of adult
nightmares and fantasies of parenthood
becomes a far-fetched confrontation
between a young woman (Tricia Smith)
and Ginny and Ron. The metaphysical
undercurrent of this meeting is dealt
The young woman's presence is less
about her than it is about Ginny's and
Ron's failure to handle the tragedies in
their lives. Her role is to flesh out vari-
ous aspects of Ron, Ginny and Cheryl.
Using the young woman in such a role
without distinct characterization makes
her more of a symbol than anything else,
and her place in the plot is much less the
result of Carney's imagination than con-
venience. Giving the young woman more
of a distinctive character would leave
much more room for dramatic effect.
Despite all of this, however, there are
some satisfying moments in the play.
riage than meets the eye.
The other couple, Sharon (Cheryl
Leigh Williams) and Matt (Guy
'Film delivers fierce blow to funny bone
By Julia shih
Daily Arts Writer
It all begins with a hilarious romp
involving a fish called Wanda. Now,
years later, the gang is back once again
test the world's threshold for laughter
To avoid any confusion, "Fierce
Creatures" is not a
sequel to "A Fish R1
Though it reunites Fier
the cast and even
aspects of its plot,
"Creatures" is, as
Kevin Kline puts it,"an equal, not a
The movie stars John Cleese as Rollo
Lee, the new director of England's
Marwood Zoo. The zoo has just been
bought over by ruthless media mogul
Rod McCain (Kline), who threatens to
close it down if the investment does not
produce a 20-percent return.
Rollo engineers a seemingly sure-fire
marketing plan to boost attendance. The
( oo will stock only "fierce creatures,"
'efined as violent predators willing to
at least bite off an entire hand.
But when the keepers realize that all
the soft, cuddly animals in the zoo will
have to be destroyed to make way for
the man-eating ones, they revolt vehe-
mently and comically, to the delight of
Meanwhile, ambitious executive
Willa Weston (Jamie Lee Curtis) and
Rod's dim-witted son Vince (also
line) head out to England to supervise
the execution of the plan. Vince's only
concern is to impress his father (and
scantily-clad Willa), while Willa is
determined to turn the zoo into a chain
of theme parks. After mass advertising
and ridiculous marketing ploys pervade
the sanctity of the zoo, Willa has a
change of heart and agrees to help
Rollo take back the zoo.
"Fierce Creatures" is definitely not "A
Fish Called Wanda,' but it possesses the
same level of wackiness that made its
predecessor such an international hit.
The idea was for the
V I E W cast to return, play-
ing characters who
S Creatures are different enough
from their "Wanda"
roles to be able to
At Showcase challenge the actors.
At the same time,
though, the characters still maintain the
charm and quirkiness that made them so
wonderful the first time around. This
idea is a definite success.
The film's greatest comic moments
are inspired by jokes about fetishes and
animal sex, by the displays of physical
comedy from the actors and by many of
the characters' offbeat personalities.
There are also a countless number of
Freudian slips that tend to get tiresome,
but, at their freshest, they are absolute-
One sequence that will have people
roaring with laughter involves a group
of the zookeepers attempting to spy on
Rod McCain. This scene embarrassing-
ly results in a sticky situation for Rollo
- involving a sheep and two women in
a compromising position.
After receiving an Oscar for Best
Supporting Actor for his role in "A Fish
Called Wanda," Kline returns to play a
dual role. As the father, Kline excellent-
ly portrays a ruthless businessman who
has an affinity for flatulating. As the
horny and bumbling son, Kline once
again demonstrates his immense talent
and range as both an actor and a come-
Cheryl Leigh Williams and Terry Heck star in "Labor Day."
Ron's lecture to Matt about the responsi- accomplishes an important objective. It
bilities of fatherhood and Smith's exag- entertains, inspires laughter and. may
gerated delivery of her character provide make the more sensitive tear w, little.
some of the best laughs of the evening. Perhaps, also, a few who are rot that
Though the play has its faults, it sensitive.
Hille^'s "eraso o
"SpckIn the Diaspora"
cWednesday, January'29,1997 c
8:00 pm, Hill Auditorium
University of Michigvan
Tickets: Hillel & Ticketmaster $10 (students, $5)
Call (313)763-TKTS or (313)769-0500
to charge by phone.
Call (313)769-0500 for more information
Where are your pants, John Cleese?
While Kline provides much of the
comic relief in this film, Jamie Lee
Curtis contributes the more dramatic
aspects. Her character is one who
clawed her way past the glass ceiling
and made it to the top of the executive
hierarchy, yet never found out what her
true values were. That is, until she
encountered the zoo and all its wonders.
Curtis' character goes on an emotional
journey of the heart, and the audience
goes along for the ride.
John Cleese and Michael Palin, best
known for their work in Monty Python
films, are two comedy veterans who are
the epitome of comic chemistry. With
Cleese as Rollo and Palin as fast-talk-
ing insect expert Adrian "Bugsy"
Malone, the two act as if they were born
to entertain together. Whether it is
secretly stripping down in a closet, or
discussing matters of the zoo, this
British duo really knows how to pro-
duce the laughs.
It should probably be reiterated that
"Fierce Creatures" is not the same as "A
Fish Called Wanda." It is also definite-
ly not as good. But with an all-star cast,
solid writing, hundreds of cute animals
and a great deal of creativity backing it
up, "Fierce Creatures" delivers almost
as lethal a blow to the funny bone.
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