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September 24, 2010 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2010-09-24

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Friday, September 24, 2010 - 7A

Playing outdoors
with 'Susurrus'

Look at your cards, now back to me, now back to your cards, now back to me. Sadly, I've stolen your chips.
Injustice oNBC

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By LINDSAY HURD worked for to get on the Supreme
DailyArts Writer Court, just to go back to being an
unadorned lawyer - especially
le the name "Outlaw" sug- without any media fallout. And
n exciting new series star- if he'd been thinking about it, he
rebellious main character, would have at least given his two
as instead weeks notice ... if he weren't such
d up an an "outlaw" that is.
" in Jus- *Other ridiculous plot points
rza(Jimmy include Garza's sex-crazed person-
"The West OUtlaW ality and addictive gambling hab-
who's just Fridays at its. A good 15 minutes of the show
d to being 10 p.m is consumed by the idea of Justice
sical. Garza having only three months to
's latest NBC live. This mistaken belief among
Dom drama the characters is followed by one
spin on the traditional "Law of Garza's assistants confessing her
er" plot, focusing on a for- love for him - only to find out that
dge who returns to practic- he is not in fact dying. A quarter of
'as a defense attorney - an the pilot is spent on this irrelevant
1 conflict thats magnitude tangent. And finally there's the
ed by the improbable fact unexplained flashback of Garza's
had abruptly stepped down father dying in a tragic car accident
he highest position in the with Garza in the passenger's seat.
upreme Court. Just as the plot proves to be
nothing special, the dialogue is
just as awful. Based on his work in
"The West Wing," it's clear Jimmy
lot tangents Smits is a more than capable actor,
but the dialogue in "Outlaws" is
istract from overdone at best. When referring
to a new client who is on death row,
Garza cornily exclaims "We've
got to change the rules, no matter
what." Justice Garza loves to give
le the plot twist is intrigu- inspirational speeches, interject-
just doesn't make sense. ing at least four poignant asser-
cites many reasons for step- tions throughout the program like
wn, one being that he want- "I cannot be neutral anymore and
elp people directly. But if he I want to be a fighter for rights."
wanted to help people, being To top off the tacky dialogue, the
nation's most powerful judi- writers decided that making Garza
dy would be a prime position hear voices in his head was an
'hich to do so. It's not likely innovative idea, but really it just
uld ever give up all they had makes him look insane (and not in

a quirky, fun Michael Scott kind
of way). There's an obvious reason
this has never been done before
on a law show - posing someone
that crazy as a successful individ-
ual leading our country just isn't
And the supporting cast is no
help, as it's just as formulaic as the
dialogue. There's the Elle Woods-
esque law clerk (Ellen Woglom,
"Californication"), the young and
pissy male law clerk (Jesse Brad-
ford, "Bring it On") and the sex-
crazed assistant (Cassie Pope,
"Orange County"). About the only
other thing missing from this uber-
stereotypical law show is the nerdy
tech guy - but based on the rest
of the show's orginality, he will
probably make an appearance very
With "Outlaw," NBC has wasted
its time trying to make a unique
law show and has crossed the line
separating inventive and over the
top. The network should have dedi-
cated time to writing more episodes
for the recently canceled "Law
& Order" rather than pursuing a
shoddier series in the same genre.

An interactive
theater experience
in the botanical
Daily Arts Writer
An autumn wind whispers
secrets through trees and into visi-
tors' earsinScottishplaywrightand
director David
Leddy's audio
play "Susurrus." SUSUITUS
Set in Matthaei When: Weds-
Botanical Gar- Fri., 3:30 p.m.
dens for its visit through Oct. 3
to Ann Arbor, Where: Mat-
"Susurrus" elimi- thei Botanical
nates the stage,
costumes and $30, Recom-
mendedo 6for
choreography to agesde for
escape the box of
traditional the-
ater form.
Leddy, who acts as a specialist
advisor for the Scottish Arts Coun-
cil and sits on the council for the
Scottish Society of Playwrights,
created "Susurrus," which means
"rustling in trees," so he could
present a work that used a close,
intimate voice like someone whis-
pering in your ear.
"You can do that live if you want-
ed to, but it would be quite a dis-
turbing thing for most audiences to
have a stranger come and whisper
in their ear over their shoulder,"
said Leddy, who has a background
in performance art, in an interview
with the Daily.
He wrote the script in 2006 and
recorded the four characters to be
played through earphones. "Susur-
rus" is the second addition to
"Auricula," Leddy's environment-
specific audio series.

"Susurrus" premiered in botani-
cal gardens in Glasgow, Scotland,
and the piece has visited gardens
around the world in the last few
years. Glasgow's gardens were par-
ticularly inspirational for Leddy's
play, being a Glasgow resident him-
"The botanics in Glasgow have
quite a mythic position for resi-
dents," Leddy said. "Lots of people
who grew up there would go every
weekend when they were children,
and it has this sort of great power
for them."
He wanted to present the play
in the gardens as part of Glasgow's
Shakespeare festival, so he drew
themes from Shakespeare's "A Mid-
summer Night's Dream," a play that
captivated him when he first saw it
at eight years old.
"I was a very fidgety child -
I'm still a very fidgety adult, but I
apparently watched it with com-
plete, raptured attention. I was
mesmerized by it," he said. "I have
no memory of this at all, but I'm told
that I completely loved it."
He added that "A Midsummer
Night's Dream" works well as inspi-
ration because of its fantasy ele-
ments and that it's set in a forest.
But above all he chose it because
it's his favorite.
"I think you have to go on
instinct with these things," Leddy
explained with a warm smile.
But audience members, who are
admitted into a carefully plotted
path in the garden and set their
own pace in groups of four, don't
need to be familiar with the Shake-
speare play to appreciate "Susur-
rus." It's important to Leddy that
the play be an original work in its
own right.
Although Leddy used 40 to 50
quotes from "A Midsummer Night's
Dream" and worked with some of
the play's themes, including Ober-

on's sensual obsession with the
"changeling Indian boy," he didn't
use any of the same characters, and
the plot is entirely different.
The ultimately dramatic work
containing what Leddy described
as "flashes of humor" has four char-
acters or voices, and centers on a
fictional opera singer rehearsing
for the premiere of Benjamin Brit-
ten's 1960 opera of "A Midsummer
Night's Dream." Itfollows the opera
singer's relationship with his chil-
dren and Britten, and "how those
relationships begin to break apart,"
Leddy said.
"It is a play about intimacy and
relationships and secrets and fam-
ily secrets, and it has the sense of
somebody whispering secrets in
your ear in the middle of the night,"
he added.
Of course, the play uses plenty of
music, starting with Britten's opera
and expanding outward to opera
singerslike Janet Baker and Maria
Callas and popular singers in the
'40s and '50s like Nat King Cole and
Edith Piaf.
The "power of the human voice"
is part of the piece's theme, Leddy
said, particularly the "slightly
super-human quality that opera
singers have to draw out emotions
of other people."
Leddy prefers to experiment
with the elicitation of intense emo-
tional reactions in his theater, as
well as pushing the boundaries of
form. And he isn't worried about
his audience, in Ann Arbor or else-
"I don't know who the audience
is, anywhere really," Leddy said.
"I don't try to communicate with a
particular audience. I think you'd
go a little bit mad if you try to do
that as an artist.
"I make pieces that I want to
make and then try to find the people
who want to see the piece."



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