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By Glenn Loney, January 9 2000

Glenn Loney
Caricature of Glenn Loney
by Sam Norkin.
[01] Some Surprising Solo Shows
[02] Plays from the Attic
[03] Musicals Old & New
[04] New Dramas & Plays

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fFor a selection of Glenn Loney's previous 2000 columns, click here.

Some Surprising Solo Shows:

"Sun Flower," "Another American/Asking and Telling," "Much Ado About Everything"

VOTES FOR WOMEN!--Elizabeth Perry as Suffragette "Sunflower" Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
You could call this trio Millennium Monologues. They sum up some distinctive concerns of the past century, looking forward to the future.

"Sun Flower" [***] is the creation of Elizabeth Perry. That was the pet-name given Elizabeth Cady Stanton by her militantly Abolitionist husband.

He may have been anti-slavery and an ardent liberal, but he couldn't go the distance to support Mrs. Stanton in her long battle for Women's Suffrage. Freeing America's slaves was difficult enough, without freeing American women to vote.

Ms. Perry has obviously done a lot of research on her other Elizabeth and on the topic of Suffrage. But she is more importantly a playwright and actress, so she portrays an important American Feminist Icon as a real human being.

This show had an extended run in New York and it now should be seen across the nation. It requires few props and should travel easily and inexpensively.

It was so much admired by President Clinton and his First Lady that Perry was invited to perform it at the White House!

· · · · · · · · · · "Another American/Asking and Telling" [****] is an interesting collage of anonymous testimonies and opinions about the thorny topic of Gays and Lesbians in the Military.

Marc Wolf performs these first-person comments from the text he has so effectively structured. Directed by Joe Mantello, he is able in an instant to assume the accents, body-language, and emotions of a wide variety of gay and straight people. All of them with a strong personal interest in this controversial issue.

Understandably, the most affecting testimonies are those of servicemen and women who have been hazed, mocked, beaten, entrapped, threatened, persecuted, and/or Dishonorably Discharged.

Anyone who has endured Basic Training and who remained a lowly Enlisted Person may well wonder why any homosexuals would want to make a career in the US Army, Navy, or Air Force.

The ignorance, prejudice, and malice of some opponents of gays in the military—as recreated by Wolf—can only increase that sense of incredulity. Who needs this?

Wolf answers that with some of his testimonies. Gays and Lesbians are also American Citizens, supposedly with equal rights. And they have the same right and civic responsibility as do other citizens to serve their country in its Armed Services.

· · · · · · · · · ·
WHY IS THIS MAN SMILING?--Because he's Jackie Mason and back on Broadway.
And then there's Jackie Mason, returning to Broadway in "Much Ado About Everything." [***] From his wide-ranging, quasi-humorous insults to targets in the audience, it seems likely that he'd also oppose gays in uniform: "What are you? Some kind of pervert?"

That always gets a hearty laugh from audiences—who probably also don't like the idea of their sons and daughters being exposed to same-sex oral-sex in the military.

Although Mason can be expected to recycle some durable set-pieces from past shows, he always has his eyes and ears wide open for social, political, and cultural trends. The trendier they are, the more they deserve mockery.

Hillary and Bill don't get off easily, but this time Jackie has spared Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles from Indecent Exposure.

Frankly, I was looking forward to some tart comments about the Wrath of Giuliani in action.

There are so many issues: The Homeless—they should be forced to have homes. The Schools—they should learn to read. The Brooklyn Museum—they should drop dead.

But, no sooner had he mentioned the Mayor, than there was tumultuous applause for crime-free streets and other benefits from City Hall. If Mason had any Giulilani-shtik prepared, he gave no indication. Go with the flow!

Mason did some of his favorite "impressions": an aged Frank Sinatra singing; a robotic and arthritic Ed Sullivan on camera.

But this is stuff of the Last Century. Many millions of Americans never saw Ed Sullivan on TV. Many don't even know who he was. It's time to Move On.

In the forthcoming Election Frenzy of Great Debates, wouldn't it be a great idea to stage one between Jackie Mason and Dame Edna—who is just down the street from him?

Jackie could take on the current issues from an American—not to say New York—point of view, while Dame Edna could express Australian incredulity at our political and social problems.

Plays From the Attic:

"Home of the Brave," "Waiting in the Wings," "Amadeus"

SOUTH PACIFIC SEXTET--Six soldiers from Arthur Laurents' World War II drama, "Home of the Brave." Photo: Copyright ©—Carol Rosegg, 2000.
At the close of the recent and admirable revival of Arthur Laurents' "Home of the Brave," [****] Robert Sella stepped forward to note that this was the first time since it bowed on Broadway over half-a-century ago that the powerful play had been produced in New York City.

Sella played Coney, the Brooklyn Jewish soldier who is stricken with psychological paralysis on a dangerous mission in the South Pacific in World War II.

Sensing a whiff of anti-semitism from his buddy—who soon after is tortured and killed by the Japanese—he is overcome by guilt for a sudden feeling of hatred for his presumed friend.

When Laurents' drama premiered—to critical plaudits, at a time when anti-semitism in mainstream American life was still a touchy topic—it was generally viewed as a play demonstrating the terrible effects of racial and religious prejudice on a decent young Jewish man.

When it was transformed into a movie, however, the protagonist was changed into a black soldier. It has been suggested that hostility toward, and fear of, American Blacks by the White Majority was viewed by Hollywood moguls as a bigger social problem than anti-semitism.

But—as films then reached a much wider public than Broadway stage-plays—it could also have been a conscious decision not to give examples of anti-semitism in action broader currency. The country was and is full of copy-cats.

Simply and suggestively staged at the Jewish Rep, the production did evoke those old World War II films and plays effectively—with an excellent cast.

Seeing the play again after decades, I realized for the first time that it is not only about the cruel and senseless effects of blind prejudice, but also about the Victim's own sense of being Victimized.

His tormentor has a real emotional and spiritual problem. But so does he. He has to learn how to stop thinking and behaving like a Victim—as well as to walk again.

· · · · · · · · · ·
HARRIS & BACALL--Centering on the sofa in "Waiting in the Wings." Photo: Copyright & Copy—Henry Grossman, 2000.
Noël Coward's "Waiting in the Wings" [**] was always nothing more than a pot-boiler to give ancient actresses the opportunity to appear on stage once more for their adoring fans. Its gags and spats and plots and stereotypical characters are all utterly predictable.

And not very amusing. Of course it was once wonderful to see Dame Sybil Thorndike and Dame Edith Evans as the feuding but faded stars.

Lauren Bacall and Rosemary Harris have not yet ascended to the firmament where the Great Dames were once in orbit. But they did their very best with this trite, embarrassing material.

This may be Coward's Centenary, but the Master would be more honored if some of his lesser efforts were politely forgotten.

· · · · · · · · · ·
COMPOSERS IN VIENNA--David Suchet and Michael Sheen as Salieri and Mozart in "Amadeus.' Photo: Copyright ©—Catherine Ashmore, 2000.
Broadway hasn't seen "Amadeus" [*****] for a very long time, but it hasn't exactly been gathering dust in Peter Shaffer's attic. Since its sensational premieres in London and New York some time ago, it has seldom been absent from a stage somewhere in the wide world of theatre.

Even in Eastern Europe under the Red Star, this musical-drama about the infantile genius, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and his sophisticated antagonist, Antonio Salieri, was a popular repertory staple.

After all, it was Russia's Pushkin who gave the rumor that Salieri poisoned Mozart out of musical jealousy wide currency in his play.

In Peter Hall's sumptuous new production, Shaffer has clearly improved on his original conception and text. It is more focused, and Salieri is less of an artful, scheming villain than a bitterly disappointed artist who feels God has played a terrible trick on him.

David Suchet is a much more interesting and complex Salieri than either Paul Scofield or Ian McKellen were. That's partly in Shaffer's rewriting, but also in Suchet's emotional range and Hall's talents as a director.

Michael Sheen's irrepressible and occasionally desperate Mozart is irritating, compelling, and pitiful in ways which his famous predecessors could only mime.

This production is a must for anyone who loves good theatre and good music. It is, in fact, one of the best new musicals on Broadway. Even if it's not really new, nor a musical.

Musicals Old & New:

"Kiss Me, Kate," "James Joyce's The Dead," "Saturday Night Fever," "Marie Christine," "A Death in the Family," "Jolson & Co.," "Our Sinatra," "Out of the Blue," "Lola"

All those critical superlatives on the posters outside the Martin Beck Theatre are more or less true. "Kiss Me, Kate" [*****] is indeed a wonderful show.

It's almost a wonderful new show, as there are no composers or lyricists around now who can match the brilliance and inventiveness of Cole Porter.

Although designer Robin Wagner's show-within-the-show looks like a bus-and-truck production just hitting Baltimore—rather than a pre-Broadway tryout opening—it is lively and colorful.

And it looks very much like those flown-shows of yesteryear which used to come to the Curran in San Francisco, including the original "Kate."

That is one of the special charms of this vibrant production—especially for theatre-buffs in general and musical-comedy fans in particular. The year is 1948, and the nation is still recovering from World War II.

Costumer Martin Pakledinaz, Wagner, and lighting designer Peter Kaczorowski have marvelously recreated the look and texture of those times.

Kathleen Marshall's hyperactive choreography certainly recalls some of those great dance-musicals of the 1940s.

And director Michael Blakemore has made sure that the energy and tension do not slack for one moment. Sight and running-gags are masterfully staged. One can hardly believe that he also directed "Waiting in the Wings."

Brian Stokes Mitchell and Marin Mazzie are supercharged in the leading roles of the once and future lovers and stage-egomaniacs. But she seems a hard-edged harridan.

And Mitchell is somewhat cold and calculating—too technically proficient and eager for approval as a performer. And it shows. Alfred Drake in this role was really sly and lovable.

A little more nuance and subtlety would not be amiss. A certain sense of personal warmth—both as characters and performers—is missing.

They were great in "Ragtime," but here their relationship is entirely different. And this is a much superior musical, though it lacks the moral earnestness of "Ragtime."

In a really disappointing season, this show is one of the few bright lights on Broadway. But it is not quite as great as some of its more eager reviewers insist.

Studying the ads in the "Times" and the critical quotes outside leading New York theatres, you could be forgiven for thinking that the critics are trying to do the show-publicists' work for them.

True, the quotes are extracted from longer reviews by those very publicists. But some recent critiques do read more like ads.

Dump on Broadway and Off-Broadway shows too much, and you'll be looking for another job. Maybe at Amazon.com?

· · · · · · · · · · James Joyce was an unusual story-teller, telling stories about seemingly ordinary people. But his forte was not Story-Theatre.

It has been suggested that "James Joyce's The Dead" [***] is a form of Story-Theatre. Or that it's really a new kind of musical.

Actually, it's being presented as a "new musical play." It's not quite one nor the other.

Although it is being performed by practiced and talented professionals, it has almost the feel of eavesdropping on an amateur family evening. But then, that does seem to be the effect its creators were trying to achieve.

But we aren't snooping through the invisible fourth-wall. Christopher Walken shares his thoughts and reactions about this final party with the audience.

He provides narration to bridge small time-gaps and to explain emotions and actions on stage which adapter-director Richard Nelson and the other actors have not been able to make self-evident in text or performance.

Walken doesn't have to step out of character to visit with the audience. He isn't in one to begin with. Indeed, he almost seems to be sleep-walking through the play.

He also cannot really sing, but his off-handedness makes this no great problem. It doesn't bother him at all. If you have major musical expectations of this central figure, this show is not for you.

But, if in a parched and barren season, you long for serious, realistic, period, human, and humane drama—with adaptations of some old Irish song-favorites—this production should both please and touch you.

And there are fine character-performances from such talents as Paddy Croft, Stephen Spinella, Sally Ann Howes, John Kelly, Alice Ripley, Marni Nixon, and Blair Brown, among others.

· · · · · · · · · · "Saturday Night Fever" [****] is subtitled "The Musical." Why Producer Robert Stigwood and colleagues thought this explanation was necessary is a puzzle.

Were they trying to avoid confusion with "Saturday Night Live"?

Of course this is a musical—and it's a very vivid, supercharged, and in-your-face musical at that. It is a translation to the stage—by Nan Knighton—of the hugely successful film that made John Travolta a star.

In a time of failed imaginations and no exciting new musical inspirations, putting movie-musicals on stage is better than nothing. At least when it is as stylishly and energetically performed as this show, thanks to director/choreographer Arlene Phillips and her do-or-die cast.

James Carpinello may be no Travolta, but he is a dynamic dancer and competent actor. I saw the show during the holidays, with most of the principals replaced by understudies. They were impressive

· · · · · · · · · · There was much advance ado about "Marie Christine." [**] Composer-librettist John Michael LaChiusa was repeatedly interviewed and adulated.

Had Broadway discovered another Gian-Carlo Menotti? Possibly another Puccini?

On the evidence of the Lincoln Center staging—by Graciela Daniele—LaChiusa is neither a Puccini nor a Menotti—not even in embryo.

Perhaps Puccini was wise to set his dramatic sights a bit lower? He loved such stage-hokum as David Belasco's "Girl of the Golden West" and "Butterfly." Not to overlook the melodramas of Eugene Scribe and the Commedias of Carlo Gozzi.

Unfortunately, LaChiusa chose Euripides' "Medea" for his 19th century New Orleans Quadroon updating.

Even if he'd left the story in its original mythical locus in Greek Pre-History, his music is no match for Luigi Cherubini's "Medea."

The classic tragedy really doesn't translate effectively to the place and time he tried to evoke, nor to the characters he devised. Even though there is some historical basis for his fable.

"The Medea Murder Story" is one which repeats itself over the centuries and nations. But not in a point-for-point reiteration of the Medea Myth. That certainly seemed an almost comical weakness in the libretto.

I didn't hear & see this show with its star, Audra McDonald, but her understudy, Sherry Boone, was able and in good voice. I do not think that even a major opera star could make this role and drama powerful. Nor make the music transcendent.

· · · · · · · · · · At the Manhattan School of Music, another ambitious effort in Musical Theatre was given its New York Premiere. This was "A Death in the Family," [***] based on the James Agee novel and Tad Mosel's Broadway adaptation.

William Mayer's score and libretto were premiered in 1983 by the Minnesota Opera. The opera had its second production in 1986. The Manhattan staging, in December 1999, was only its third full production!

This is surely discouraging to serious contemporary composers, as well to as eager advocates of new works for the Musical Theatre.

How many modern operas have found a place in the repertory? How often does New York City Opera revive Douglas Moore's "Baby Doe"? Or his "Wings of the Dove"?

Does the public really want to see most new operas a second time—not to mention repeatedly?

And what Menotti opera have you seen in New York recently, either on Broadway—where some premiered—or on the stage of the Met or City Opera?

Unfortunately—as with Sir André Previn's recent San Francisco premiere of "Streetcar Named Desire" and John Harbison's "The Great Gatsby" at the Met—such reverent musical adaptations do not have soaring scores.

Stanley Kowalski doesn't even have an aria of his own in Previn's "Streetcar." Even though he's furious with Blanche for upsetting his homelife.

The problem, both with "Gatsby" and "Death in the Family," is the effortful and all-too-respectful attempt to set the story to music. Even with severe editing of the original narration or dialogue, the musical settings of what remains is all too often merely serviceable. Pedestrian, but not really soaringly singable or marvelously memorable.

Nonetheless, the Manhattan School's premiere was admirably produced—and effectively staged by Rhoda Levine.

Agee's autobiographical novel about his relationship with his father—who suddenly dies in a freak auto accident—was certainly brought to the musical stage with tenderness and affection by Mayer and his performers.

· · · · · · · · · · "Jolson & Co." [***]—at the York Theatre—is a curious musical entertainment. It is inconceivable without its star and co-author, Stephen Mo Hanan.

Although Hanan initially moves with an almost arthritic, robotic jerkiness—as though he'd had some spinal discs fused—it soon becomes apparent that he's carefully studied Al Jolson's recorded performances in order to replicate them.

This he does with an almost spooky intensity. He looks, in fact, a little grotesque, but when he's totally in a number, the effect is amazing.

The framework of the show is a radio interview, in which the high—and some low—points of his career are recapped. Trite though this format may be, it works well enough to cover the years, the songs, the impersonations, the triumphs, the disappointments—and the women.

Jolson was not a nice man nor a generous performer. His Hollywood Movie Musical Biography—starring Larry Parks—was sheer entertainment and near fiction.

This show, however, doesn't Make Nice about its protagonist. His monumental Ego is always on display. And he was not exactly God's Gift to Women. Nancy Anderson is wonderful as all of them—including Mae West and Ruby Keeler.

Robert Ari is also impressive in a wide variety of quick-change roles. He is quite a versatile performer who should be seen more frequently.

This is a simply staged show which should be able to tour quite easily. And it's one which should have a wide appeal to older audiences. Younger spectators hardly know who Jolson was.

Some seniors in the audience seemed to have forgotten that both Jolson and Eddie Cantor made their initial impressions on stage in Blackface.

This show doesn't flinch from that awkward era in American Musical Theatre. In fact, it shows why Jolson loved to Black Up: this mask freed him from his Jewish Ghetto past so he could perform without restraint or qualm.

· · · · · · · · · · Both on and Off-Broadway, musical anthologies threaten the future of real musical-theatre. "Our Sinatra," [**] at the Blue Angel, is no exception. It is subtitled "A Musical Celebration," perhaps to make it seem in advance more festive than it actually is.

With Eric Comstock at the piano, Christopher Gines and Hilary Kole make up an attractive and talented trio. They don't really imitate Frankie—unwise to try that, as Jackie Mason should realize—but they interpret many of his favorites with affection.

They have collaged an amazing number of Sinatra Numbers—including some almost forgotten songs. With so many melodies to survey musically, however, some of the lyrics can be little more than tag-lines.

· · · · · · · · · · The only way William Benton's new musical, "Out of the Blue," [0] could acquire any marginal dramatic interest—or excuse for existing at all—would be to set it in Columbine High School.

This appalling show could very well have been written by amateurs—as it nominally is in the script. Some talentless teens decide to Put On A Show at their high-school.

Their supposedly outrageous idea is to set it in a Nudist Colony!!!!!!!!!!

Naturally, this dramatic decision immediately inflames the censorious Principal. If this plot-device sounds familiar, it provides the Major Dramatic Crisis on Broadway in the misbegotten musical, "Footloose." Which is unaccountably still running, probably owing to its colorful sets, bright lights, frenetic dancers, and non-English-speaking audiences.

Then there was that recent Off-Broadway high-school musical, "Stars in Your Eyes." In that, the dopey plot had the hero science-teacher trying to prevent the Board of Education from tearing down the School Observatory.

That show, savaged by most critics, at least had some charming songs. Benton's lyrics, music, and book are trite, obvious, unamusing, and charmless.

What's amazing about this show is that advance press-material stressed Benton's eminence as a poet-contributor to "The New Yorker"! He even got some column-inches in that august magazine's "Talk of the Town."

He must have been a discovery of Tina Brown's?

· · · · · · · · · · We had just finished with a bizarre fantasy on the Live and Loves of Lola Montez in Bavaria at HERE, when a new Montez musical was recently and ably showcased by the Lark Theatre Company—which specializes in workshopping and developing new works.

I am honor-bound not to review "Lola: The True Story of Lola Montez" because this was a workshop.

But, being something of an expert of Montez—having grown up in Grass Valley, where she had her only home ever, and having worked in Munich, where she became mistress of King Ludwig I—I must say that the show's creators, Craig Safan and Kirby Tepper, have reprised her somewhat scandalous life with skill and panache.

This seems as close to the "True Story" as Lola herself permitted her public to hear. She actually performed a show about her Life and Loves.

What's more, Safan and Tepper have written some wonderfully melodic songs, with sparkling lyrics—the like of which we've not had on Broadway in a long time.

This is a very effective and professional show which should soon get a major production. And Jennifer Rae Beck—who sang Lola—is an excellent candidate to continue in the role.

There is a Lola Montez musical by Kenward Elmslie and Claibe Richardson—set in Grass Valley. In Munich, there's a Lola Montez Ballet at the Operetta-Theatre.

In Munich, this is fine, for she's a Local Legend. In New York, no one's ever heard of Grass Valley—and very few of Lola, although she's buried in Brooklyn at Green-Wood Cemetery as Mrs. Eliza Gilbert.

This lack of Brand-Recognition can be a problem, if the subject is not well-known. But not if the book and songs are dramatic and powerful. And the Lola is incandescent on stage.

Successful musicals have to stand on their own merits—and the strengths of their productions—not on historical references and bios of real people. Before "Gypsy" premiered, would you really have wanted to see a musical about June Havoc's mother?

New Dramas & Plays:

"True History and Real Adventures," "The Passion of Frida Kahlo," "Adam Baum and the Jew Movie," "Dinner With Friends," "Space"

There was a great movie-musical about Calamity Jane. It has even been translated to the musical stage.

GUN CONTROL BY KATHLEEN CHALFANT--Cocking her pistol in "True History and Real Adventures." Photo: Copyright ©—Carol Rosegg, 2000.
"True History and Real Adventures" [*] also features good Ol' Jane, impersonated by no less a talent than Kathleen Chalfant. She is/was the only reason for seeing this show at the Vineyard.

Although it has music by Mel Marvin, this is negligible, played from a sheet on the pit-piano by a pianist who spends most of his time verbally setting the scenes.

Women's playwright Sybille Pearson is afflicted with the idea that History is being falsified, when not simply forgotten. She wants to correct this through "the lie of theatre," or some such formulation.

She imagines a frantic young Scots girl—with a group of teen-age immigrant chums, outsiders in America at the turn of the last century—searching the West for her heroine, Calamity Jane.

Don't ask!

Their heavy-handed picaresque adventures would give Mark Twain migraines.

But there was a really cute cartoonish Victorian Theatre as the frame for all these misadventures.

· · · · · · · · · · Priscilla Lopez was fascinating as the titular icon in Dolores Sendler's "The Passion of Frida Kahlo." [***] This was not a solo show, but Lopez/Kahlo was certainly the focus of attention as her life-story as artist and woman was artfully collaged.

With some evocative folkcraft-images and projections of Kahlo's work, this was also something of a guided tour—and explanation—of Kahlo's Mexican maturation, amatory fixations—notably Diego Rivera, and physical torment.

Ingeniously staged by Michael John Garcés in a small West Side church-basement space—sparely designed by Troy Hourie—this is a production which ought to travel. It should appeal especially to college audiences and museum subscribers.

Lopez' performance is so compelling, she could also do a Kahlo Solo, if Sendler were to devise it for her.

For her own mysterious paintings—as well as for the portraits of her Diego Rivera frequently included in his own murals and paintings—Kahlo has become one of the more widely recognized modern women painters.

In Rivera's 1939 San Francisco World's Fair mural—now at San Francisco City College—as well as the Riviera mural at the California Art Institute—his visions of Kahlo are very like her own self-portraits. Theirs was obviously a strange but loving symbiosis.

If you missed Lopez as Kahlo, there's one currently on screen in Tim Robbins' new Agitprop Epic of the 1930s, "The Cradle Will Rock."

· · · · · · · · · · The creation of the American Dream on screen has now been copiously explored and explained. The received wisdom is that it was the work of some Jewish film-producers in Hollywood, who longed to live in such a world, free of prejudice and problems.

RON LEIBMAN ON THE INTERCOM--Script conference in "Adam Baum and the Jew Movie." Photo: Copyright ©—Carol Rosegg, 2000.
Daniel Goldfarb's "Adam Baum and the Jew Movie" [**] is predicated on this idea. Only this time, the producer wants a serious—but also successful—film which will confront anti-semitic prejudice in the mainstream of American Life.

The time is 1946—shortly before the release of "Gentlemen's Agreement"—and the mainstream of anti-semitism seems to run right through the landscape of the American Dream.

Ron Leibman is permitted to rant and rave—sometimes like a Jewish Gatsby—about his passion for the Truth. But with both eyes fixed on a mythical box-office.

He's chosen a liberal Wasp—actually a "Fellow Traveler"—to craft the script. A Jew, he thinks, could not, should not, write this screenplay.

Unfortunately for both of them—and the potential film—his screen-writer is trying so hard to understand what he believes are Jewish traditions, rituals, emotions, longings, and career goals, that he gets it all wrong and antagonizes his potential producer.

This is a potentially interesting and combustible situation. The one in Goldfarb's play, not the putative screenplay.

But it lacks focus, and the resolution is unclear and unsatisfactory. Back to the keyboard?

I saw Donald Margulies' "Dinner with Friends" [***] two years ago at the Humana Festival with Actors Theatre Louisville. Then, I thought it well played, but not of overwhelming interest, as the central couples were Baby Boomers with problems.

I thought I was too old to care about them—in the face of Worldwide Hunger and the Evaporation of the Ozone Layer.

Now in New York—with a cast including Matthew Arkin, Lisa Emery, Kevin Kilner, and Julie White—the play seems much more compelling and even threatening: the fragility of love and marriage in a permissive age of easy enticements and shifting commitments—or no commitments at all.

It has already been playing in Paris, so it must indeed have wide-ranging contemporary appeal! As staged by Daniel Sullivan, in Neil Patel's clever revolving settings, it is a production well worth a visit.

· · · · · · · · · · Tina Landau has written an almost visionary New Age script, simply titled "Space." [****] And now she has directed it at the Public Theatre, where she recently had a great success with her autobiographical monologue, "The 2.5 Minute Ride."

Some spectators were absolutely baffled by its structure, characters, production, and possible intent. "The worst thing I've ever seen at the Public!" one complained to me.

Having had some unusual psychic experiences in the past few years myself—and having grown up around psychics and mystics—I found it magical, mysterious, and deeply suggestive of other worlds and other lives we cannot imagine.

The astral effects and other wonders devised for this production—including music and sound—made the entire experience seem to float weightlessly in space. But Landau suggests we have no idea of what Space and Time really are.

In any case, don't stray into any Black Holes when you are out there riding on starlight! [Loney]

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Copyright © Glenn Loney 2000. No re-publication or broadcast use without proper credit of authorship. Suggested credit line: "Glenn Loney, New York Theatre Wire." Reproduction rights please contact: jslaff@nytheatre-wire.com.

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