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May 16, 1980 - Image 9

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1980-05-16

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The Michigan Daily-Friday, May 16, 1980-Page 9

Hopwood
By ANNE GADON tries to pressure Letiti
When Diane Monach entered the attempts to blackma
script of Lady Lambert in the Hopwood several other way
Writing Awards, she followed the trend loathsomeness of his
set by the past few New York theatre involved is Basil's mot
seasons: a revival of a hit show is a Duchess of Brayb
guaranteed success. Structurally, Lady bungling servants,
Lambert is a century or two older than mistaken identity, an
the current revivals now filling Broad- romance between L
way houses such as Oklahoma and West sister and the Duke's c
Side Story. It is a faithful replica of late
eighteenth and early nineteenth cen-
tury English comedy, the time of
"Sheridan, Gainsborodgh, and Bach"
as the maid, Colleen, announces in the
prologue. Monach's script has many
moments worthy of the aforementioned
trio, but the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre
lacks the talent to tackle a period piece
such as Lady Lambert, one that would
present challenge for professional ac-
tors of the classical theatre.
From the very beginning Monach w
assures the audience that she merely
wishes "to entertain," and that no
symbolic meaning lies within the
comedy to be presented. Her humor
rests chiefly on her ability to poke fun
at the social mores of early nineteenth
century England and the eccentricities
of her characters. These were common
techniques used in comedies of the day,
such as The Rivals and See How They
Run.
INDEED, DIANE Monach has
created a surefire hit of the early 1800's.
With Lady Lambert she has proved her Bonnie Raitt and S
self to be an exceedingly adept scholar are shown here at
of that era. Unfortunately, she was born paved the way for
at least a century and a half too late. ter believe that she
Although Monach's effort is admirable rare club appearan
for its detailed accuracy, one wonders
how she plans to take her place in the
world of playwrights with such
scholarly works as Lady Lambert and OBVIOUSLY, the re
Fanny's Jewels, another period from the outset. The lo
comedy, which won a summer Hop- all persons will be corr
wood award in 1978. A thorough scan- and the villian will b
ning of play directories of the past few Monach's play is talk
decades would fail to turn up a suc- much visual action, ra
cessful run of an original period play
such as Lady Lambert. As for the
classical theatre companies, they
prefer to produce the established
comedies of Monach's beloved era. This
year's Hopwood winner seems to offer
no hint about the future of contem-
porary theatre given by former Hop-
wood winners Arthur Miller and Milan
Stitt, who wrote The Runner Stumbles.
Rather, it shows the University's adep-
tness at teaching theatre history to its
graduate students in English.
Monach's plot revolves around
several stock characters of early
nineteenth century comedy. First,
there is a pair or two of lovers who have
separated due to some misunderstan-
ding. In this case, Lady Letitia Lam-
bert has married an aged Earl who dies
and leaves her in the guardianship of
her former fiancee, Basil Moreton, the
Duke of Braybrooke. Lady Lambert
has a rather scandaous reputation in
London, so Basil tries to keep her in the
country, out of the public eye. Letitia,
however, is a spunky heroine, and
comes to London against Basil's
wishes. There she learns that he is
deeply in debt from losses incurred at
the gambling tables. Realizing Basil
will not take money in the form of a gift
from her estate, she resolves to raise
funds for him by smuggling French
brandy.
Meanwhile, Lady Lambert's brother-
in-law, Sir Arthur Lambert, the villain,

winner loses out

ia into marriage,
il Basil, and in
s proves the
character. Also
ther, the nagging
rooke, several
few cases of
end a secondary
ady Lambert's
rousin.

effectiveness lies in its rich charac-
terization and the actors' proficiency in
comedic timing. The Ann Arbor Civic
Theatre's production moves turtle-like
through the play's interminable three
acts. To use a common theatrical dig,
there were "frequent pauses you could
run a truck through" Between lines.
Much of the humor in Lady Lambert
is lost at the hands of the amateur cast

Braybrooke . When Basil finally tells
his mother that he is able to take charge
of his life, Henning declares his
freedom with the same emotional in-
tensity he displayed earlier when sub-
mitting to his mother's will.
Lady Lambert, an unusually clever
and charming leading lady for this type
of comedy, as portrayed by Sheridan
Hunt has neither charm nor cleverness.
She speaks almost in a whisper and ap-
pears more malable than playfully
scheming in contrast to Monach's
spirited characterization.
BURNETTE Stabler commands
much of the audiences attention in her
excellent performance as the Duchess
of Braybrooke. She goads Basil delight-
fully and seems to be one of the few cast
members capable of doing justice to
period comedy. Christopher Flynn as
Humphrey Humphries, the dedicated
valet, appears in good form as he fusses
about the proper etiquette of those
around him. Also enjoyable is Maggie
Affelder as Phoebe, who minces and
frets vigorously about, the stage as
Lady Lambert's younger sister. Sir
Humphrey Lambert, played by Ed
Glazier, is on the right track in his por-
trayal of the villaneous brother-in-law,
but is merely scratching the surface of
malevolence. Wednesday night's
audience neededonly a bit more urging
to boo and hiss him at full force.
The stunning sets by Don Stewart and
JoAnn Zeigenfuse deserve recognition
as well as Brad Butler's lighting and
Sheradi Cannon's bright costumes.'The
setting of the brilliant moon and stars in
the night scene on the beach is reason
enough for attending Lady Lambert.
Thatgis, unless you like squirming
through threehours of poorly paced
early nineteenth century English
comedy.

Sippie Wallace Daiy hotob y JIMKRUZ
ippie Wallace, two generations of women blues singers,
Hill Auditorium this past April. The 83-year-old Wallace
modern interpreters of the blues like Raitt, and you'd bet-
can still do more than hold her own. Sippie will make a
ce at the Blind Pig tonight.
solution is clear members, although they do put forth a
vers will marry, valiant effort. Basil, as portrayed by
ectly identified, Timothy R. Henning, lacked variation
a sent packing. in his performance as the frustrated
y. There is not guardian of Lady Lambert and the hen-
ther, the play's pecked son of the Duchess of

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