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October 13, 1995 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-10-13

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Hear something extraordinary
Variations on the Ordinary is a recent anthology that celebrates the
work of nine Detroit-area writers. These writers will be reading from
their text tonight at 7 p.m,, Barnes and Noble, 3245 Washtenaw. The
show is free, For more information, call 693-7344.

October 13, 1995

'Oh Coward,'you'd be proud
Musical Theater Program scores a success with witty revue *.

y Jessica Chaffin
For the Daily
The Musical Theater Program's
splendid production of "Oh, Coward!"
is a vibrant comic revue of selected

Oh Coward!
Lydia Mendelssohn Theater
When: Tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m.,
Sunday at 2 p.m.
Tickets: $16, $12, $6 students at
League Ticket Office. Call 764-0450.
songs and scenes from the works of
Britain's most infamous talent, Noel
The show, which was originally de-
vised by Roderick Cook in the early
'70s, has been completely revamped by
director Brent Wagner and musical di-
rector Jerry DePuit. Coward is most
known forhis rapier sharp wit, to use an
overused phrase, and deservedly so.
Short narration and scenes from some
of Coward's finest plays - notably

"Hay Fever" and "Private Lives" -
have been interspersed to enhance
Cook's original revue and to weave the
biographical structure of the play to-
gether. These additions also serve to
underscore thetre engpussense ofbit-
ingcharismawhi rmeatesCoward's
work. DePuit has craftily rearranged
the score in order to accommodate the
vast but not overwhelming cast of 18,
which has been expanded fromthe origi-
nally intended cast of three.
The revue's biographical structure
encompasses the many themes and
stages of Coward's multifaceted ca-
reer. The first act finds the cast in the
chic casual attire of the 1920s and '30s,
touching on such grand themes as the
music hall, the wild '20s, travel and the
English family album. Coward never
misses an opportunity to send up the
raucous and edonistic spirit of the
times. The usic hall sequence is won-
derfully done in true vaudevillian style
exemplified by such numbers as "Wharf
Ho, Mrs. Brisket" and "Men About
Perhaps the most hilarious numberof

the production, is a scene from "Hay
Fever," where Coward's clever mas-
tery of otherwise mundane conversa-
tion and the English upper class obses-
sions with manners and boredom are
made hilariously absurd. The travel
sketch is a humorous vision of crass
tourists - replete with Ambervision
blue blockers. Coward, however, proves
he is no stranger to sentiment with his
gently nostalgic tribute to Englan o-
tably in the beautiful subtle concl ion
to Act One, "London Pride."
Act Two finds the cast in the glamor-
ously lush evening attire of the '30s,
exploring the themes of relationships,
the theater, love and fashion. "Design
For Dancing" is a smoothly choreo-
graphed and on erfully entertaining
number lows the audience to
overhear snippets of conversation at an
extravagant party. Wagner includes the
superbly done balcony scene from "Pri-
vate Lives," as well as a cleverly origi-
nal BBC radio setting for Coward's
decidedly more bawdy rendition of Cole
Porter's "Let's Do it."
Both the singing and acting of this

The cast performs the first act finale, "London Pride." "Oh Coward!" plays through Sunday at the Mendelssohn Theater.
production were superb, surmounting riod mannerisms and dialect with style taming evening that should not be
the considerable obstacles of both pe- and grace. In all, a glamorously enter- missed.

S l trange Days indeed


my RlE y Aluna
For the Daily
Imagine having a contraption that al-
lows you to recapture the best nemories
of your life. It could also place you in
another person's shoes, letting you live
through their experiences, if only for a
short time.
In the cyber-thriller "Strange Days,"
ex-cop Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes)
peddles such a potentially addictive de-
vice on the black market. During the final
days of the 20th century, the gadget,
known as SQUID, is the drug of choice.
Users merely get "wired" to the appara-
tus, pop in a "trode," close their eyes and
transport themselves to an alternate world.
With racial tensions and urban chaos
plaguing 1999 Los Angeles, clips of past
real-life experiences seem like the best
way to escape reality. 4
Nero, theself-proclaimed"SantaClaus
ofthe subconscious," explains SQUID to
aman eagerto understand its effects: "It's

Strange Days
irected by Kathyn Bielow
with Ralph Fiennes and
Angela Bassett
At Briarwood and Showcase
not like TV but better, it is life." If anyone
knows about the power of "playback," it
is Nero. He not only enjoys selling the
dangerous product, but he also relies on it
to create his own warped reality. Besides
blurring his fantasies with reality, Nero
lives vicariously through the actions of
others. Whether they include sex or vio-
lence, he considers the clips relatively
risk-free comparedto doingthe real thing.
Alone in his gloomy apartment, Nero
gets his fix by viewing his collection of
clips featuring his ex-lover, Faith Justin
(Juliette Lewis). Obsessed with Faith,

Nero sets out to win her back. Despite the
infectious hedonism of life on the fringe,
Nero ironically proves to be a hopeless
romantic. No one realizes this better than
Max (Tom Sizemore), his consoling best
friend. Yet no matter how cruelly Faith
spews out rejection and disgust, Nero
keeps coming back for more.
Enter Lornette "Mace" Mason (An-
gela Bassett), Nero's trusted confidante
and limo driver. Without her strong
presence and secure moral footing, Nero
would probably lose his mind. When
Iris (Brigitte Bako), Faith's best friend
is brutally raped and murdered by a
playback fiend gone psycho, Nero real-
izes that Faith may be next. With Mace
at his side, Nero gets closer to the killer
and his insane motives. Director
Kathryn Bigelow ("Point Break") pre-
sents the graphic clips from the killer's
point of view, which magnifies the
shocking nature of his disturbed mind.
As Nero gets tangled up in the love
triangles that emerge, Nero never loses
sight of Faith, at least until Mace shakes
up his soul. After he finally exhausts
her patience, Mace tells Nero, "Memo-
ries are meant to fade. They were de-
signed that way for a reason."
Backed by James Cameron's ("True
Lies") slick script, Fiennes infuses Nero
with enough edgy emotion to make you
care about his fate. In addition, scene-
stealer Michael Wincott plays Faith's
paranoid boyfriend Philo Gant, a man
with way too much time on his hands.
Lewis milks Faith's scathing anger for
all it's worth, especially in her Courtney
Love-esque renditions of P.J. Harvey
songs. The booming soundtrack gets a
bit overwhelming at times, considering
the in-your-face, fast pace of the film.
While Lewis merely takes on her
"Natural Born Killers" look-how-
bitchy-I-am-now persona again, Bassett
provides a refreshing change by carry-
ing a strong black female role. The one-
two punch of Fiennes and Bassett sparks
one of the film's most triumphant mes-
sages. Afterblindly trusting people who
he thought cared about him, Nero looks
at where the love really resides. His
revelation that daydreams cannot re-
place real life (better late than never) is
a good way to start off the next century.

Take a bite out of Jawbreaker and Jawbox
If you've been having some jaw problems recently, try checking out Sunday's Jawfest at St. Andrew's Hall with Jawbreaker,
Jawbox and Engine 88. This hardcore/punk show will break your jawbonel Gliman Street vets Jawbreaker's first major
release "Dear You" hit stores last month with Its hard-hitting potent punk anthems. Songs like "Save Your Generation" and
"Jet Black" will have your teeth chattering with glee. Jawbox will be just as biting with their great dissonant D.C. hardcore
sound and harsh melodies. Don't miss this Jawbreaking event that Is almost as comy as this preview. Doors open at 7:30
p.m. and tickets are only $6.


15th at Liberty 71-9700
I HEROES Bring in this ad, and receive one I
1 ~ FREE 20oz DRINK!I
LETTER with any popcorn purchase a
- - -- expires: November 3, 1995


Angela Bassett tries out her very realistic Ralph Flennes puppet.


The Department of Philosophy
The University of Michigan
Henry Louis G
.E.B. DuBois Professor ties
Chair of the De
Friday, 0 P.M.
Ra rium
915 on Street

lm--,f6A~ofiafo [.i- -


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