12 MONTROSE VOICE/MARCH 20, 1987
'Much Ado' Over at Main Street
Houston Live by Bill O'Rourke
I know some of you are afraid of Shakespeare. You associate his name with
blown-up ham actors chewing the scenery. Or with archaic language that's difficult to understand. Or ancient people
fighting over things that don't matter to
us now. Besides, how can anything
that's supposed to be that good for you
("the greatest English dramatist that
ever lived!") be any fun at all?
There is nothing to fear and much to
enjoy in the Main Street Theater production of Much Ado About Nothing.
There is no overacting. If anything,
some of the characters are a little underacted. Nearly everyone, however, is
very believable in a very modern way.
These people might live next door, if you
live in River Oaks.
Spoken with clarity, accompanied by
actions and emotions we hold in common, the words are actually very easy to
understand. These are not street people.
I, for one, am glad of that. Right now
there are too many plays colored red,
what with profanity and other gutter
vulgarities. In this production, by and
large, here we have the muted pastels
one imagines he might here in any
Steve Garfinkle plays Dogberry in
MST's "Much Ado About Nothing"
in love with each other. How can they
admit it to each other without losing
Can the day really be saved by Dogberry (Steve Garfinkle), a pompous
lower-class ass with a flair for mala-
Shakespeare did have one habit that
rehearsal clothes. The whole effect is
interesting, at times very pretty.
It is never allowed to intrude into the
action ofthe play. In fact, it has no interaction with the play itself whatever.
Several of Shakespeare's plays were
witten to be plays within plays, but this
wasn't one of them.
However, this approach is not without solid precedents. In Shakespeare's
day, the actors wore hand-me-downs
from rich fans. They made no attempt to
fit the clothes to the locale and time.
Evening in a garden, sure—but a
hundred years ago in a foreign country,
There's even a famous example where
the playwright himself mentioned a
clock in a play set long before they were
invented, right there in the dialogue. In
our own day, Richard Burton's most
successful Hamlet was done completely
in rehearsal clothes.
If it feels good, do it. If it works, emotionally and aesthetically use it. Bless
historical accuracy! Send it to heaven
and get it out of our hair! (Unless, of
course, it would work better.)
So, if you've never seen Shakespeare,
this would be a good spot to dip your toe
in. If you have, this is a welcome visit
with an old friend. Whatever, this is a
most enjoyable show.
Don't forget the Houston International
Festival, all thir. week!
The Alley Award, Houston's most
prestigious theater honor, is given each
year in recognition of a lifetime's
efforts. This year the husband and wife
acting team—Jessica Tandy and Hume
Cronyn—are the worthy recipients.
Their careers, separate and together,
have spanned many decades and many
styles, originating roles in several modern classics. May they live long and
Well, all ofthe entries are in for Chocolate Bayou's Preston Jones New Play
Symposium. There are some 200 plays
from all over the country and only three
can be chosen. John Pierson, the symposium's coordindator, tells me that
each year's crop often reveals trends
The distinguished acting couple of Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn are
recipients of the 1987 Alley Award. The Tony Award-winning couple will
discuss their careers in "A Conversation with Jessica Tandy and Hume
Cronyn" Saturday, March 21, 6:00 p.m. on the Alley Theatre Large Stage
There are two plots. In one, handsome
Claudio (Dane Cruz) falls in love with
shy Hero (Vicki Luman). His friend
Pedro (Tim Plaumbo) helps them
become engaged. But on the evening
before their wedding, instead of a bachelor party, they're tricked by nasty John
(Ray Simmons) into believeing that
Hero has been sleeping around. Claudio
reacts much as any conservative fiance
would today. Her father (Vaughn C.
Johnson) takes his side, too. How can
poor Hero ever prove her virginity?
In the other plot, Beatrice (Claire
Hart-Palumbo) and Benedick (Jerry
McCulley) are always reading each other's beds. They might remind you of
Benson and Krause. But then their
friend tricks them into realizing they're
not all of our contemporary playwrights
do. He always looked at the down side of
his funny situations and the funny side
of his catastrophes. It makes for a well-
rounded play. But with all the insults,
the teasing and other word play, the
overall mix in this play is hilarious.
To point up the play's relevance and
to excuse any small errors in authenticity that might be made to help the
audience understand the finer details,
director Rebecca Greene Udden has
turned this show into a play within a
play. When we arrive, the actors are
doing their warm-ups on stage. Kathleen Lipscomb's sets all face away from
the audience. Only half of the period
costumes ever reach the theater. So the
actors are partly in costume, partly in
characters, whether their orientation is
central to the plot or not. John also
points out a trend away from something. Every year ther have been several new, lousy rewrites of Medea. This
year, thankfully but surprisingly, there
By the way, they've been able to bring
John Henry Faulk's one man show
back. It will open March 26 for a three
week run. So, if you couldn't get tickets
the first time, here's your chance.
The Houston Community College production of Kopit's Chamber music,
which opens there this Thursday, has
already won several top honors at the
Texas Junior College One Act Play
When Babes in Arms was translated
from the stage to the screen, it became
the first of the several in which Judy
and Mickey rounded up the kids to do a
musical in an old barn. Now, real kids
are doing the original at the HITS Unicorn Theater.
The Human has traced along Houston city streets to form the giant outline
of a man. In the works since 1982, the
first phase is now done. You can get
maps and see an exhibit at Diverse
Works. Then, if you drive the route, you
will find permanent markers at the top
of his head and the tips of his hands and
feet. The tour will take you through a
wide diversity of Houston neighborhoods, but not ours. His right bicep
touches Westheimer down at Baldwin.
Eventually, the sponsoring group hopes
to paint the entire route to make the
silhouette visible from the air.
Richard Fluhr and 100 of his students
from the Art Institute of Houston will be
completing a mural for the City Wide
Club of Clubs Family Recovery Center
(4715 Caroline St.) this week. They
should have it finished by the evening
of March 20. This 145' x 8' mural will fit
inside the walls of the existing, two-
year-old mural there.
Prepaid RSVPs must be in by March
25 for CACH & Business Volunteers for
the Arts' 11th State of the Arts Luncheon, March 30 at Two Houston Center. Writer Philip Lopate, artist Derek
Bosher and curator/ critic John Caldwell will discuss The Creative Arts in
Houston: The Challenges, The Opportunities. $12.50. 658-2483.
March 25, 1903—A court of inquiry was
Randy Brecker and Eliane Ettas perform at the Spring Jazz Festival of the
Houston School for the Performing and Visual Arts
towards certain subjects. From the ones
I've read (I'm helping to judge it.), this
year's trend seems to be towards gay
ordered to investigate charges that Sir
Hector "Fighting Mac" Macdonald, one
of the most admired generals ofthe Brit-