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March 27, 2000 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2000-03-27

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In the House of uild....
*uthor Lyn Coffin reads from her past
works as pact of the Guild House's
Visiting Writers Series. 8 v.m. Free.

A " sdj~u &l

michigandaily.com tarts

MARCH 27, 2000



By Jenni Glenn
Fine & Performing Arts Editor
In 1909, May 30 was the day of jazz
musician Benny Goodman's birth. In
1778, it marked the day of philosopher
Voltaire's death.
The newest University Productions
*ama, "S'lichot," opens with a mono-
logue on the significance of this date

explores touching look at Jewish life

Trueblood Theatre
Mar. 23-25. 30-1 at 8 p.m.
Mar. 26& Apr 2at 2 p.m.

to different mem-
bers of the Levy
family. The idea
that one event has
a variety of
me a n i n g s
depending on
how it is per-
ceived provides
the foundation
for this moving
play about one
family's struggle
to understand the
nature of mortali-

her father-in-law Simon minimizes the
serious situation. Everyone except Ira
flirts with the nurses to relieve tension.
Frequently the characters end up hold-
ing a collective conversation where
each family member is talking about a
different subject.
Yet from this selfishness emerge
moments of true concern as the family
members reach out to express their
love for one another, something they
delayed in doing because it seemed
there was an infinite amount of time.
"How do you say 'I love you' 30 years
too late?" son Jason asks, a question
with which any member of the audi-
ence can identify since few people care
to examine their own limited lifetime
too closely.
The audience can relate equally well
to the appealing characters in-the Levy
family. Jason, played by David Jones,
struggles between being the "good
son" and giving reign to his own,
sometimes rebellious, thoughts.
Lauren Spodarek brings fire to the
character of his sister Sima, who irri-
tates her family by continually point-
ing out the unfairness of the status quo.

The grandfather Simon Levy serves as
effective comic relief through Steve
Best's portrayal. Always avoiding the
real issue of Ruth's illness, Simon
instead wants to make certain that the
surgeon is Jewish.
The backdrop to this action consists
of a waiting room draped in white
flanked by two curtained rooms. One
of these curtains conceals a hospital
room, while the other holds the kitchen
of the Levy's kitchen. The use of the
curtains increased the believability of
the hospital set and smoothed the tran-
sitions in time.
The set allows the drama to realize
graduate student playwright Kim
Yaged's vision as a seamless compila-
tion of reality, history and imagination.
Director John Neville-Andrews' stag-
ing skillfully manipulates time and
space to showcase flashbacks and fan-
tasies in addition to the actual events
occurring in the hospital. Flashbacks
show where the characters have been,
from Jason's first love to the death of
Simon's wife, while fantasies offer the
audience a glimpse into the way each
character wishes life were.

Another layer of the play consists
of the themes presented by the ensem-
ble. Yaged revives the notion of a
Greek chorus in the form of the hos-
pital's nurses and doctors. This
ensemble verbalizes the characters'
unsaid thoughts and recites Hebrew
prayer in unison. At other moments,
the chorus switches its rhetorical
technique, instead peppering the audi-
ence with individual, staccato words
about the symptoms or emotions of
illness. The chorus suggests themes
for the audience to mull over, adding
depth to the drama.
Although the Jewish background
and Sima's lesbian lifestyle could
have been alienating, these charac-
teristics only serve to give an identi-
ty to this universal family. Viewers
laugh, ponder and, eventually, cry
right along with these lifelike per-
sonalities. Audiences will have
another chance to experience this
multi-layered drama next weekend.
Everyone should take advantage of
the opportunity to experience a fam-
ily that will remind them of their

± Photo courtesy of David Smith Photography
Ethan B. Kogan confers with David Jones in Kim Yaged's production of "S'iichot."
Levys, a Jewish family whose mem- ideas through both real and imagined
bers have lost touch but retain that per- conversations in an attempt to cope
manent bond of blood and shared with Ruth's terminal cancer. Her chil-
experience. Reunited in a hospital, the dren bicker, her husband Ira despairs
family debates trivial and momentous that he has been a terrible husband and

"S'lichot," which means forgiveness
in-Hebrew, examines the relationships
between three generations of the

Young thespians can't keep 'Here'
from falling off face of the 'Earth'


By Erin Podolsky
Daily Arts Writer

"Here on Earth" is intent on spreading its
charming smarm of misinformation, beginning
with its title and moving full speed ahead with
content. Why it isn't called "Here on Mars" or
"Here on Venus" is a bit of a mystery, given that
none of its three main characters act like they
hail from our native terra firma. But you can't

r /
Here On
Grade: F
At Showcase
and State
' r

expect too much from a
movie that opens with a
Goo Goo Dolls song, espe-
cially one that hasn't been
written for it exclusively. I
guess they never got the
memo that Goo Goo Dolls
do not guarantee box
office, and at this point in
time are symptomatic of a
larger disease known as
That's precisely what
"Here on Earth" is. Do not
be fooled into thinking it is
a comedy. It's a tragedy, in

both the sense that the miserable mess that has
been made of it is tragic and the events of the
film are tragic for the characters involved. Any
tears that threatened, though, were not for these
poor saps - they were for the poor saps play-

ing the poor saps. So the opportunities for
young Hollywood hotties are few for drama -
so what? "Here on Earth" is so bad that the only
explanation is that Chris Klein, Josh Hartnett
and Leelee Sobieski were so sick of high school
comedies that they signed up for the first teen
weepy that crossed their agents' desks. But
that's an explanation. Not an excuse.
These three emote through the movie like
there's no tomorrow. Throw a few angry punch-
es over a girl? No problem. Need the water-
works going for the deathbed scene? Give me
five minutes while I peel a couple of onions.
These are Thespians with a capital T. Nothing is
beyond them, except apparently the skills to
choose a decent script.
To make matters worse, it's not even an orig-
inal storyline. Kelley (Klein) is a rich kid with
an uncaring father who goes to prep school. He
shows up in the local town one evening with his
brand new Mercedes convertible, where Jasper
(Hartnett) picks a fight. They drag race and end
up crashing into Mable's Table, the town restau-
rant and hang-out run by Sam's (Sobieski) fam-
ily. Instead of going to jail, their probation con-
sists of the mandate to help rebuild the restau-
rant. What's this? Resentment between townies
and preppies? Jealousy over the perfect girl
from the wrong side of the tracks? Surely you
"Here on Earth" does a lot of jesting, or if not
jesting then at least a lot of ending. Or if not
ending then a lot of attempting - by my count,
the film tried to end at least six times, starting
about an hour in. There would be the obligatory
fade out accompanied by some overly
heartrending string arrangement, and I would
get excited and grab my coat. And then the pic-
ture would fade back in. The only explanation
for this is that "Here on Earth" is actually a
psychology class experiment in how much tor-
ture the moviegoer can take before she breaks.
The answer: A lot, but secretly she relishes it so
she can bitch about it later.
Back at the ranch or farm, as it were, given
that Jasper lives on one for the sole purpose of
giving Kelley the opportunity to make fun of
cows, Kelley and Sam fall in love. They frolic
about the town whispering lines from Robert
Frost poems to prove that they are truly Meant
For Each Other. Sam was going to escape the
town and go to college' on a track scholarship,
but she busted her knee jumping some hurdles.
That's why she has that big scar, and why she
has to see the doctor all the time to check up on
the knee - isn't it? What's that? You say it
means she's not going to make it to the end of
the movie? But that's impossible, the picture is

Photo courtesy of 20th century Fox
Chris Klein and Leelee Sobieski convey'sappy young love.
fading to black and the Goo Goo Dolls are
singing again and she's not dead, so the movie
must not be ov- oh, fudge. It's baaaa-aaaack.
It's probably not worth remarking here that
Kelley and Jasper reconcile their differences for
the good of the girl and become better people
for it. It's also probably not worth remarking
that this is a big let-down for director Mark
Piznarski, whose previous credits include four
incredible episodes of the late, great "My So-
Called Life," including an episode in which a
bizarre love triangle comes into play.
Unfortunately, we're stuck with these three
loser characters instead of Angela, Brian and
Jordan. "My So-Called Life" got canceled and
it was sublime. "Here on Earth" is terrible, but
its cancellation is up to you. Take a stand. Don't
buy a ticket. Just stay home and play your Goo
Goo Dolls CD. Trust me on this.

By Leslie Boxer
Daily Arts Writer
The Oscars are not only the biggest
night for Hollywood, but they are also an
important night for fashion. Last night's
Oscars were no exception. For the stars,
choosing the right outfit is just as impor-
tant as choosing the right person to
accompany you down the red carpet.
How many pictures of Gwyneth Paltrow
have we seen in that infamous pink
Ralph Lauren dress?
Plunging necklines were a big hit
among Hollywood's leading ladies.
Charlize Theron, Salma Hayek, Chloe
Sevigny, Paltrow, Ashley Judd, and
Cameron Diaz all opted for baring much
of their breast plate. Another popular
trend was big necklaces, as showcased by
Hilary Swank (whose necklace looked
like a dog collar), Heather Graham,
Angela Bassett and Sevigny. I guess a
part of being a big name in Hollywood is
proving that you can borrow expensive
jewels from Harry Winston, or the like.
The women who chose to wear black
looked sophisticated and elegant.
Sevigny wore a long black Yves St.
Laurent gown with a deep neckline and
looked gorgeous. Other notables in black
were Cate Blanchett and Winona Ryder,
whose dress was perfectly supplemented
with a beige lined shawl. Blonde hair was
also back in style. Both Diaz and Paltrow
abandoned the dark locks and returned to
natural blonde.
As for the men, the long tie tuxedo was
a staple, a refined and subtle change to
the more traditional tux. Keanu Reeves

Oscar night's best dressed included actress Chole Sevigny in an elegant evening
gown while actress Erykah Badu memorably dressed on a more eclectic side.
Styles compete with
e f
te fh for top 6

looked great in a black on black tuxedo,
although he did show up with messy hair
that looked like he just woke up (or had a
mad make-out session). Morgan
Freeman also wore black on black and
was a model of the classic gentleman.
Complementing these men were Ethan
Hawke and Alan Ball who both chose to
wear white on white. The monochromat-
ic tuxedo was a good choice and looked
finished and civilized.
Even though many of the stars looked
well put together there was no shortage
of bad outfits. Most memorable was
Erykah Badu, who wore twine and a tall
green headress that blocked the view of
many Oscar spectators. Usually stunning
Julianne Moore wore a black Chanel
number that crossed her chest wrong and
made her look husky. Worst dressed men
were M. Night Shyamalan, director of
"The Sixth Sense,' who wore a turIle-
neck under his tuxedo and Tom Cruise,
whose navy tuxedo, beige shirt and black
bow-tie was not only offensive but also
downplayed Nicole Kidman's Oscar gold
On the other end of the spectrum was
Penelope Cruz in a exquisite periwinkle
blue dress. Also well dressed were Wes
Bentley, Mel Gibson, Paul Thomas
Anderson and Edward Norton. Other
notables were Judd in lavender, Ryder,
Sevigny and Graham in a tight beaded
nude dress.
Overall the actors looked well put
together and very refined; but what can
you expect when they have 12 people
primping them and designers offering
them expensive dresses.

Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox
- Leelee Sobieski is the girl next door in "Here on Earth."


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