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October 18, 1995 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-10-18

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, October 18, 1995

A new take on an old tryst

By Jessica Chaffin
For the Daily
When Emily Bronte's epic Victorian
novel "Wuthering Heights" was pub-
lished in 1847, reviewers condemned it
as "brutal," "depraved" and "vulgar."
Some things never change -they just
become more attractive.
What was once considered offensive
and scandalous is now considered en-
tertainment, and over a century later, as
evidenced by the production posters,

Drama's production is helmed by di-
rector John Neville-Andrews, who has
described it as "a splendid vehicle for
the modem stage."
Neville-Andrews believes that this
"Victorian psychological drama in two
acts" will not be lost on a modern audi-
ence. "It has everything - a wonderful
story with vibrant and dynamic charac-
ters, with a little bit of sex and violence
thrown in," he said. The play's themes
resonate with a contemporary audience,
and "tortured romance" is something
with which Neville-Andrews is "sure
some audiences members will feel a
Neville-Andrews, an Associate Pro-
fessor of Theater, is an actor, writer,
director and producer whose past expe-
riences include work as an Artistic Pro-
ducer for the Folger Shakespeare The-
ater in Washington, D.C., and most
recently as director of the non-equity
national tour of "Crazy For You." At
the University, he has directed "The
Merry Wives of Windsor," "The Heidi
Chronicles," and Arthur Wing Pinero's
mid-Victorian comedy "Trelawny of
the 'Wells'," to name a few.
"Wuthering Heights" has enjoyed
several previous adaptations for the
stage and screen, including a failed
musical, a mediocre opera, and an

"I think that you're far more sexy than Ralph Flennes."

This laay is wearing an Italian straw nat.
Top 'Hat is a fttingy COmedy

Bronte is still giving people what they
want: "Greed," "Obsession" and "Lust."
Michael Napier Brown's stage adap-
tation of Bronte's novel has its Ameri-
can premiere at the Power Center this
weekend. His text remains incredibly
loyal to Bronte's story of unrequited
passion and dark obsession which con-
sumes two generations.
The Department of Theater and

atrocious television movie starring
Juliette Binoche and Ralph Fiennes
(but don't shed any tears; it got him
cast in "Schindler's List"). Perhaps
the most famous adaptation, however,
is the 1939 film with Laurence Olivier.
Neville-Andrews speculates that the
many unsuccessful attempts are due
to the fact that the book is "extremely
dense," and therefore difficult to
Napier Brown's adaptation opened

to critical acclaim when it was first
produced in the United Kingdom in
January 1994 at the Theatre Royal,
Northampton where he is artistic di-
rector. The adaptation was brought to
Neville-Andrews'. attention by an-
other University faculty member, who
heard a staged reading of it at the
1994 American Stage Festival.
Neville-Andrews contacted Napier
Brown, who agreed to the American

By Kristin Bartus
For the Daily
Hold onto your hats and prepare for a
wild ride tonight when the National The-
ater of the Deaf (NTD) arrives with the
1851 comedy "An Italian Straw Hat."
This outrageous production proves itself
special by being the first tour in the Tony
Award-winning NTD's 28-year history
to be held over for a second season.
"Straw Hat" takes us on a fast-paced
adventure through Paris on the heels of a
young bridegroom en route to his wed-
ding. As he rides his carnage home to
prepare for the ceremony, he accidentally
drops his whip in the bushes. While he
attempts to retrieve it, his horse begins to
nibble on the Italian straw hat of a mar-
ried woman who is having a tryst with a
young soldier. The married woman can-

neous use ofspoken and signed dialogue.
"There is no social value, there is no
depth of literature here. It is merely a
device to allow a lot of people to go
running around the stage for a couple
hours," saidAlbers. Hebelieves this quick-
moving but plain, good fun is what at-
tracts audiences and contributes to the
production's immense popularity.
Also intriguing is the play's use of both
spoken and signed English. In adapting,
Albershadtopay special attention to aspects
that would not work with deaf audiences.
The original play contained a scene where
the hero is mistaken for a famous concert
pianist.In this adaptation, however, the hero
"plays"a famous modem artist and creates
pieces of abstract art on stage.
The use ofsign language can provide a
uniqueappeal. Said Albers,"Ifyouhaven't
seen this before, it's an absolute treat to
watch this company work in a different
medium and still communicatetohearing
audiences." He finds the actors are able to
perform amazing and unexpected theat-
rics. One even manages to sign with a
French accent.Said Albers, "Because it is
based in physicality, it is tailor-made to
deaf actors who use their bodies all the
time in communication anyway."
Albers believes the play can give ex-
traordipary insight into communication
and language.
So if you want a wacky break from the
pressure of midterms, come and see "An
Italian Straw Hat." As Albers explained,
"It is not going to change anybody's life,
but it makes a good date."

'A Walk in the Woods' makes for a nice, pleasant stroll

By Paul Spiter
For the Daily
Setting the mood of an audience pre-
paring to watch a play usually involves
just the dimming of the lights and the
gradual lowering of interrupted con-
versations. This weekend Jon Berry took
a more active role in these opening
moments in Lee Blessings' "A Walk in
the Woods."
Entering the theater, a blaring televi-
sion, boom-box and alarm clock at-
tacked the senses of the audience, while
scattered newspaper added to the feel-
ing of a modern day world of confusion
and chaos. Sitting there, annoyed by the
hurly-burly of the machines, I must
confess, I almost got up and turned the
things off. After all, this couldn't be the
setting of a play about two men having
conversations in the woods, could it?
Just when I thought I couldn't take it
any longer, in walked a rather quiet,
contemplative man, who, with slow but
efficient motions, transformedthe stage

A walk In
the Woods
Arena Theater
October 15, 1995
before us.
First, the machines were shut down.
Then went the newspapers. Finally, in a
explosion of Michigan foliage, the set
became covered in golden fall leaves.
The relief of getting away from such
cacophony to this tranquil scene set the
mood of relief that was present through-
out the play. Yet, the feeling of an
impurity in all this beauty (supplied by
leaves of the seasonal weather) hung
over the stage, for there was still that
TV monitor in the background, with
snow crackling on the monitor.
That oppression of greater powers
ominously controlling the scene from

afar provided some of the most power-
ful moments in the dialogue between
the two statesman, the naive Honeyman
and the cynical Botvinik. These two
ambassadors (from the U.S. and
U.S.S.R. respectively) struggle through-
out the play against those powers, and
though they fail in the end, become
heroic in trying to oppose them.
Set in the small basement theater, the
production lived up to my expectations
of intimacy in the two-person play. The
performances of Ed Lewis and Mat-
thew Witten (both second-year BFAs
in the Department of Theater and
Drama) both enchanted and entertained
the audience. The sometimes irritable
mannerism of Honeyman (basically
your average high school debate club
leader) came across very believably
from Witten, whose constant attention
to his cuffs and spectacles brought out
his character's prissiness. Lewis, in the
role of Botvinik, filled almost every
moment with the charm and easily-
likable demeanor of the charismatic

Russian (basically your average high
school class clown). Both hit their lines
off each other with the easiness that
comes with only a the best rehearsed
performances, and kept the fast-paced
dialogue moving with only a few minor
slips and pauses.
The direction for the play, by Jon
Berry (also a BFA Theater student),
also shined. He, ofcourse, was the quiet
person transforming the stage at the
start. He also controlled the lighting,
though simply, to set the pauses in the
play. But, in a simple play like this, the
best direction lies in the details that
don't call attention to themselves, in the
choreography of dialogue between the
Truly, the best compliment I can give
"A Walk in the Woods" is a small
criticism as well: The play seemed to
end as soon as it began. Audiences who
caught the play should look forward to
seeing more ofthese three gentlemen in
the future; those who didn't, should
make it a point to do so next time.

not go home without an identical and
intact hat because it was a gift from her
suspicious husband who would question
her whereabouts when the hat was eaten.
The farce continues on a mad hunt for
another straw hat. In addition to amess of
mishaps, director Kenneth Albers' adap-
tation includes a one-man orchestra, an
18-foot Eiffel Tower and the simulta-




cordially invites all seniors to join representatives
from our Investment Banking Department.


Thursday, October 19, 1995

4:30 pm

- 6:00 pm

Michigan Room

Assembly Hall

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