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December 08, 2006 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-12-08

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
THEATER PEM E
Meet the
rents
CLASSIC COMEDY COMES
TO THE POWER CENTER
By CATHERINE SMYKA
Daily Arts Writer
Imagine bringing a guy home to meet your
family for dinner. You're nervous. He doesn't
know what to say. You
plead with your dad to You Can't
refrain from interrogating Take it
him until at least the third With You
date. He spills a plate-
ful of spaghetti on your Today and
mother's lap. It happens Saturdayat
to everyone. If it hasn't Sunday at 2p.m.
yet, it will.
You have nothing to $6-$22
worry about, unless, of Power Center
course, you're Gaylord
'Greg' Focker meeting Mr. and Mrs. Byrnes, or
Tony Kirby (Music School junior Marc Paskin)
entering soon-to-be wife Alice Sycamore's
(Music School senior Beckah Gluckstein)
household. The latter is seen in the School of
Music's production of George Kaufman and
Moss Hart's 1937 comedy "You Can't Take it
with You," which opens tonight at the Power
Center and runs through Sunday.
Alice's family emulates the peculiarity of the
Adams Family and the hilarity oflast years film
"The Family Stone." With her crazy father, Paul
(Music School junior Matt Semler), farming
fireworks in the basement, and her brother-in-
law, Ed (Music School junior Aaron Seeburger),
hording printing presses and xylophones, Alice
fears Tony will spot her eccentric household
and bolt for the door.
Tony, however, loves the Sycamores and
all their quirks. It's Mr. and Mrs. Kirby, play-
ing the conservative counterpart to the Syca-

Friday, December 8, 2006 - 5

Goodbye, my love

"You Can't Take It With You" will be performed starting tonight at8 p.m. at the Power Centei

mores, who must be convinced to accept their
future daughter-in-law's family. When the
three Kirby's arrive a day early for the sched-
uled dinner date to introduce the families, two
cultures and traditions fall under the same
roof and every man and ballerina struggles for
household equilibrium.
"It's fun, but not fluffy," Gluckstein said }n an
e-mail interview. "There are some serious mat-
ters that are addressed in the play, but it's not
written in an academic, wordy or dense style."
Music prof. and director Malcolm Tulip
believes the sheer comedy of this production
will attract the student community.
"The characters are immediate, free-spir-
ited and funny," Tulip said. "The family is the
core of the comedy. They're all living life as
they want to, and without hurting anyone."
Like the first School of Music production
this year, "The Cradle Will Rock," "You Can't
Take it with You" teases out a Depression-era
situation, "thematically connecting the two,"
Tulip said, "and showing different views of the
same time period."
The audience finds it easy to snuggle into
an evening of familiar household chaos with

this intricate 1930s set. With the hanging
chandelier and the maroon velvet curtains,
the numerous paintings and ceramic plates,
the stage closely approaches detailed without
every crossing the line to complicated. Tulip
believes his characters find a home in this dif-
ferent kind of setting.
"The most difficult part for the actors was
getting the style right without making it seem
hollow," Tulip said. "There still needs to be
real people and good comedy."
The only problem he encountered, in fact,
was the balance of the cast and stage itself.
"Working out the logistics of the show was
like trying to manage a big city train station,"
Tulip said. "With the number of roles and the
constant movement onstage, the traffic control
was complicated."
The quantity of actors only increases the
quality of the production. Tulip said they "have
grown ... and are able to hold their own."
Students can expect physical comedy, a
strong cast and a sense of familiarity, howev-
er small, with the Sycamores they see a little
of their own household in the one portrayed
onstage.

By WHITNEY DIBO
Daily Arts Writer
Warning: This weekend's
Basement Arts show isn't for
the recently
heartbroken. Posthumous
Actually, just
to he safe, it's Todaythrough
-Sunday at 7 p.m.
not for any- and Saturday
one who's had atli p.m.
their heart Free
broken any-
time in the Walgreen enter
last three or
four months.
Inspired by Shakespeare's
"Cymbeline," School of Music
senior Seth Anderson's show
"Posthumus" exposes the terrible
truth of a one-sided breakup. Con-
ceived by Anderson and written in
collaboration with the show's only
actor, Music School sophomore
Darren Criss, "Posthumous" goes
where no other show dares - into
the living room of a guy who's had
his heart stomped on.
After a phone call reveals his
wife of eight years is actually a no-
good adulteress, the title charac-
ter Posthumous (name obviously
borrowed from the Shakespeare
play) deteriorates into an hour-
long monologue of self reflection,
genuine grieving and a touch of
"how-could-you-do-this-to-me."
Following the shattering phone
call, Posthumous delivers a solilo-
quy from "Cymbeline" about the
pain of love and the unbearable
burden of women, as a video mon-
tage of him and his estranged wife
is projected onto a screen. The
combination of modern technol-
ogy and Shakespearian language
works, because let's be honest
- Shakespeare knows heartbreak
like nobody else.
After the brief smattering of
Shakespearian text, Posthumous
proceeds to violate the firstrule
of post-breakup sanity: He opens
the memory box. Out spill count-
less trinkets of the couple's hap-
pier days - love notes written on
napkins, photographs and other
relationship keepsakes. He then
takes out a small voice recorder
and begins talking to his absent
lover. This guy has it bad.
A bottle of wine in hand, Post-

humous begins to grapple with
the reasons his relationship didn't
work out. He indulges a theory
that there are two types of lovers
in the world: ones that thrive on
the excitement of new beginnings
and those content with compan-
ionship. Unfortunately for Post-
humous, it appears he fell in love
with the former.
As a talented musician, Criss is
thankfully able to dot the tragic
scene with music throughout. Sit-
ting at his piano, Posthumous plays
a tune here and there, looking as if
he'll suddenly burst out into the
best heartbreak song of all time.
The piano eventually proves
a somewhat silent companion,
so Posthumous does what any
anguished guy would do: He calls
up a friend. But the conversation
only ends up illustrating the pain-
ful solitude of breaking up, as the
voice on the other end actually
uses that terrible clich6 "there are
Nothing a stiff
drink at the bar
couldn't fix.
other fish in the sea." In a stroke of
cleverness, Posthumous points out
the better phrase would actually
be "there are other whales in the
sea," since whales partner for life.
Fish only stay with their mates
long enough to make babies. Not a
great model to follow.
Finally, after 45 minutes of con-
trolled grief, Posthumous finally
loses it. Burying his face deep in
a pillow, his intense crying is the
type you hope never to witness
in other person - let alone in the
close quarters of the new North
Campus black box theater.
The lesson of "Posthumous"?
Never break a guy's heart. Appar-
ently afterward they sit listen-
ing to love songs and talking to
themselves. Not a pretty sight.
The production was also a risk for
Anderson and an emotional whirl-
wind for the show's lone actor. But
the pair should be commended for
bringing an original piece of work
to Basement Arts.

'Black Gold': Good till the last guilty drop?

By JENNA PARKS
For the Daily
Documentaries have been late-
ly going the "raising-awareness"
routeasrecent
films like "An * G old
Inconvenient
Truth" acid Black Gokld
"Who Killed Sunday at
the Electric 3:30 p.m.
Car?" attempt Atthe Michigan
to alert the Theater
public to
the social impact of global issues.
"Black Gold" has a similar educa-
tional issue to sell, though it focuses
on coffee, the world's second most
valuable commodity, instead of
globalwarming.Usingguerilla film-
making techniques, "Black Gold"
follows coffee co-operative man-
ager Tadesse Meskela as he travels
the world in search of a higher sell-
ing price for the fair trade beans of
Ethiopian coffee farmers.
The film illustrates how, when it
comes to coffee production, farm-
ers usually end up getting the short
end of the stick. The large compa-
nies that dominate the world cof-
fee industry buy their beans from
exploitative middlemen, who buy
directly from the farmers for as
little as $0.10 to $0.15 per kilo - a
number that keeps the farmers at
a level below poverty. Often there
are as many as six steps between
the fields to the cup. Tadesse's goal
is to skip the middlemen and sell
the product straight to those larger
companies, but this proves difficult
as the global supply is nearly 8 per-
cent above demand and world pric-
es therefore depressed.
"Black Gold" doesn't just con-
centrate on the poor living condi-
tions of the Ethiopian farmers. The
film attempts to cram in the many
unjust facets of coffee production
into just 76 minutes, jumping from
vignettes of coffee farmers to clips
of the Barista World Champion-
ship and then back to the poverty of
African children. The juxtaposition
of worlds confuses the film's focus,
swinging it back and forth from
fact to emotion. One scene shows
Tadesse in a lavish coffee trade
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show complete with fancy suits and
businessmen, only to be followed by
a heart-wrenching explanation of
howunderfedEthiopian youth need
malnourishmentrehabilitation cen-
ters. With all the information the
film attempts to dish out, the pace
becomes breakneck and the true
message clouded. Are we supposed
to feel more sympathy for the farm-
ers and their plight or develop dis-
dain for our American gluttony and
consumerism? Or both?
The stereotypical shots of Afri-
can poverty seem like a basic tech-
nique used to evoke sympathy.
While such images do successfully

pull on the heartstrings of its audi-
ence, context is lacking - some
scenes never mention coffee at all.
We can't help but wonder whether
this reliance on emotional devices
rather than factual analysis is just
an easy way out.
Though he mostly comes off
like a benevolent over-seer, even
Tadesse sometimes appears to be
another greedy member of the busi-
ness class, jet-setting around the
globe while the tenants of his co-
ops dwell in thatch-roofed huts.
The film reveals little about Tadesse
himself, and scenes of him interact-
ing with his tenants are conflicting:

in one he attends a village meeting
to raise money for a school, and in
another he is upset with the quality
of the bags used to ship the beans.
"Black Gold" is only a small part
of the campus-wide attempt to raise
awareness of the importance of fair
trade coffees, along with its intro-
duction last year into university
dorms and its rise in popularity at
local coffee shops. That triple-shot
latte might not seem quite as imme-
diate as Al Gore's global warming
expos6, but with Starbucks look-
ing to triple its locations to serve an
ever-increasing popular demand,
its source is worth considering.

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