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December 02, 1998 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-12-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


Derek Walcott in residence at the University. The esteemed
Nobel Poet Laureate, deemed worthy of the title in 1992 by those
ever-so-famous Swiss intellectuals, will be in residence through
Friday. He will read from his collection of verse tonight at 7:30
p.m. Tomorrow he'll deliver a lecture at 5 p.m. Rackham
Amphitheater. Free.

Uft St~m Nk
LT

Weekend, etc. Magazine returns with a look at the recent
swing craze. From GAP ads to mainstream bands, big band is
all the rage.

A

Wednesday
December 2, 1998

5

wo0son cc
By Jenni Glenn
Daily Arts Wrtier
University Productions presents the 400-
year-old satiric comedy "Volpone" this
weekend at the Power Center. Written by
en Jonson, a contemporary of Renaissance
ramatist William Shakespeare, the play
criticizes greed and other inherent faults of
humanity.
The satire follows the
likable villain Volpone,
an old Venetian who has
Volpone no heirs to inherit his
Power Center substantial fortune.
Thursday through Volpone uses complex
Saturday at 8 p.m. plots to swindle would-
Sunday at 2 p.m. be heirs. These schemes
form "very high comedy
bordering on farce," said
director and theater and
drama prof. John Neville
Andrews.
Along with this
humor, the play contains
another side. "There is a dark underbelly in
the play - a deeply cynical and sarcastic
work which is aimed at our humanity,"
Nevillie-Andrews said.
As part of this darker side, Jonson includ-
ed a symbolic level in the play that hinges on
the names of the characters. Volpone actual-

)medy parodies life

ly means fox in Italian, while other character
names translate into fly, vulture and raven.
Cast members developed characterizations
that are all animals or birds to fit the names,
Neville-Andrews said.
Neville-Andrews considers the use of ani-
mal names for the characters a spoof on
humans. "Jonson's animals are showing us
something that they know and respect: the
food chain," he said. "But in 'Volpone,' it's
not about relationships between animals and
insects; it's the human food chain that we're
seeing. As a portrait of humanity, it's none
too flattering," he explained.
This truth, however displeasing, helped
Jonson gain a reputation as the leading
comic playwright of the Jacobean Era.
"Volpone," which remains one of Jonson's
best known works, debuted at London's
Globe Theatre in 1606.
The play's history presented a challenge to
the cast. "Ben Jonson's language is difficult,
more difficult even than Shakespeare,"
Neville-Andrews said. Jonson also wrote
many timely jokes directed at an audience of
his contemporaries.
Neville-Andrews has substantial experi-
ence with drama of this era. During his 30
years in professional theatre, he worked as
an Artistic Producer for the Folger
Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C. in

addition to directing campus productions of
"The Merry Wives of Windsor" and last
year's "Henry V." Currently he serves as the
artistic director of the Michigan
Shakespeare Festival in Jackson.
Other production staff members include
local artist Malcolm Tulip as the movement
specialist and set designer Linda Buchanan,
head of scenic design at DePaul University.
Former University student Erika Furey
designed the costumes, while theater and
drama professor of design Gary Decker cre-
ated the production's lighting scheme. The
production staff worked to recreate the
extravagant Renaissance atmosphere of
Volpone's sardonic world.
Although the play originated in another
time, (its first run was cut short by an out-
break of the Bubonic Plague), "Volpone" has
never really stopped being performed
throughout its 400 year history. The produc-
tion staff and student cast hope this particu-
lar production will enjoy the same kind of
success. I hope "just to make it entertaining,
funny and enjoyable for everyone," Neville-
Andrews said.
Tickets for Jonson's "Volpone " are $7 for
students and are available with a student
ID at the League Ticket Office. Regular
priced tickets are available for $14 and
$18. Call 764-0450 for more informationm

Courtesy of University Productions
Joshua Parrott and Amanda Miller star in Ben Jonson's "Volpone" at the Power Center this weekend.

Duil Rugmts' need changing

Wolfe's novel explodes with prose

By Chris Cousino
Daily Arts Wrtier
Getting a swat at the crawling
infestation of Disney's "A Bug's
Life," which opened last
Wednesday, Nickelodeon pre-
sents "The Rugrats Movie," a
full-length animated feature
based on the critically acclaimed,
viewer-adored cartoon. While all
the fun-filled characters are there
-- Tommy Pickles, Angelica,
Spike the dog and the memorably
named Dr. Lipschitz --- the film
lacks the overwhelming heart and
curious spunk so potently rich in
the show, making for what feels
like a long, mediocre episode
(a.k.a. "X-Files"). In the end, the
film's potent all right, but more
like the stringent smell of a dirty
diaper.
Narrated initially by one of the
Rugrats, Chuckie Finster
(Christine Cavanaugh), "The
Rugrats Movie" finds the Pickles
family waiting for the birth of a

/
Courtesy of Nickelodeon Movies
Stu, Tommy and Didi welcome Dill Pickles, the newest Rugrat.

Tom Wolfe
A Man in Full
Farrar, Strauss
"A Man in Full," Tom Wolfe's lat-
est book, has a big hole in it. Near
the center of the front dust jacket, to
be specific. Through that hole, onto
the blue sky and cityscape that illus-
trates the rest of the jacket, peers a
straining, oversized eyeball.
When a terminally curious type
peels back the jacket, the owner of
the eve is revealed to be Charlie
Croker, the burly development
tycoon who is the protagonist of
Wolfe's novel. Croker bends over to
squint out of his two-dimensional
confines at the reader, but turnabout
is fair play, as they say.
During the 700-plus pages of "A
Man in Full," the reader will undergo
a parallel experience: that of peeking
through the periscope of Tom
Wolfe's prose into Charlie Croker's
world, as well as a dizzying kaleido-
scope of other worlds.
Wolfe is the last American novelist
still working on the prototype "broad
canvas," and that means more canvas
than Muhammad Ali ever stepped
on. If the characters approach
quadruple digits and the fly-on-the-
wall perspective cooks with acidity,
we must be in Wolfe territory.
Wolfe's Dickensian ambition is to

capture the entire last decade of the
American experience in one work.
This he does not do, mostly because
it can't be done. The book certainly
does capture the somewhat emetic
MTV spirit of much of our era, how-
ever.
The primary plot of the story cen-
ters on Atlanta, but meanders
throughout the country. Wolfe
weaves Charlie Croker's efforts to
hang on to his massive country estate
(still called by the onetime planta-
tion name ofTurpmtine) despite even
more massive debt and imminent
bankruptcy, with another character's
struggle. That would be Roger White
II, African-American frat-boy-
turned-lawyer, who, despite an
absence of criminal trial experience,
winds up defending Fareek "The
Cannon" Fanon, a star college foot-
ball player accused of rape.
White is barely a more self-aware
character than the clueless Croker,
but his end of the story is the most
interesting, combining as it does an
explosion of political and cultural
tensions. White is tormented both by
bigoted good-ol'-boy football boost-
ers and his former fraternity broth-
ers, who had mocked his privileged
background (as opposed to theirs,
which led them to the same frat
house) by renaming him Roger Too
White.
Roger is a morally ambiguous
character, but just about the most

sympathetic in the novel. One may
hope not many special-interest group
types will get hold of this book, or
Wolfe may be awash in protests over
his negative depiction of this group
or that one. The fact is, absolutely
everyone touched by Wolfe's satiric
pen takes it square in the tender
parts. That goes from liberals to con-
servatives and personal trainers to
panhandlers.
The only conspicuous failure of
Wolfe's representation comes in the
first chapter, where he does one of
the all-time silliest impressions of a
rapper. He does so in the person of
bestselling recording artist Doctor
Rammer Doc Doc (cross my heart,
not a typo), whose hit single "Ram
Yo' Booty" actually contains the
words "shanks akimbo." So Wolfe
demonstrates that he is not Biggie
Smalls.
He is also not Charles Dickens,
notwithstanding the versatility of his
realism and the bicep-straining obe-
sity of his hardcover edition.
Convincing as his snapshots of the
world are, the people in them are
often just as two-dimensional as
those in the snapshots of your last
spring break. He is just Tom Wolfe,
and no one else dares try. He is
funny, he is accurate, he is not made
a fool of by his unrivaled ambition,
and he does not waste the reader's
time.
- Jeff Druchniak

The Rugrats
Movie
**r~

new baby.
After quickly
establishing
all the char-
acters that
the predeter-
mined audi-
ence has

At Briarwood come to
and Showcase know and
love (if you
don't know,
there are five
children,
their parents
and grandfa-
ther), Angelica sings the first of
six music ensembles heard in the
film, "A Baby is a Gift from a
Bob."
While this is cute and shows
the familiar Rugrats' innocent
misinterpretations, the question
to be asked is why do all non-
Disney cartoon features feel they
must include these stupid song-
and-dance numbers? C'mon,
you're not Disney, you can't be
Disney, nor do we ask you to be
Disney. Just make an enjoyable
film. The songs, mostly composi-
tions by Devo founder Mark
Mothersbaugh, aren't memorable
and lack the joyous melodies
cemented in most songs of the

Disney steamrollers, Menken,
Ashman, Rice, etc.
Later, when the baby is born,
the soundtrack enlists the work of
a number of music artists such as
Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Lenny
Kravitz and Beck to provide voic-
es of babies in the hospital nurs-
ery. This song number, "This
World is Something New to Me,"
is too far disjointed and disorga-
nized to bring much enjoyment or
child viewer involvement.
When Stu and Didi Pickles
return home with their new baby,
they decide to name him Dylan,
short for Dill. But Baby Dill
Pickles can't stop crying and the
Rugrats gang decides to take Dill
back to the "baby store." Rugrat
Lil (Kath Soucie) pipes in, "It's a
money-back guarantee."
This child-like point of view
conveys the innocent charm so
warmly touched upon in many of
the "Rugrats" episodes.
Disappointingly, the filmmakers,
both seasoned directors of the
show, fail to arouse this charm
throughout the rest of the film.
After the Rugrats go for a wild
ride through town in a Godzilla-

like Reptar wagon that shouts "I
am Reptar, here me roar" (voice
by rapper Busta Rhymes, no
joke), the rest of the film deals
with their misadventures in the
woods. While the worrisome par-
ents search for their kids, Tommy
learns to accept responsibility
and love his baby brother, even
after his best friends temporarily
desert him.
Much of the animation in the
forest sequences contains darker
tones and colors not normally
seen in the "Rugrats" cartoons.
At times, the colors feel drab and
look very muddy. The art staff,
though, achieves a surprising
sophistication in scenes where
Tommy Pickles feels sad and
hurt. The pale navy coloring
matched with the dark lighting
create the raw emotion of just
feeling blue.
Fans of the series may share in
Tommy's sadness when watching
the mostly dull, mediocre, hour
and a half film. Other than a few
amusing poop 'n' pee jokes, "The
Rugrats Movie" is one
Nickelodeon baby that needs a
changing.

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