Wednesday, April 29, 2020

65. BROTHERS. From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975

(rear) Brian Farrell, Diane Gardner, (front) Everett McGill, Elaine Sulka.
 "In Lieu of Reviews"

For background on how this previously unpublished series—introducing all mainstream New York shows between 1970 and 1975—came to be and its relationship to my three The Encyclopedia of the New York Stage volumes (covering every New York play, musical, revue, and revival between 1920 and 1950), please check the prefaces to any of the earlier entries beginning with the letter “A.” See the list at the end of the current entry.

BROTHERS [Drama/Family/Military/Vietnam/War] A: Stephen White; D: David Williams; S/L: C. Murawski; c: Jeanne Button; P: Whitecaps Productions; T: Theatre Four (OB); 2/13/72 (1)

Brothers, a self-described “peace play” that had five previews but closed the night it opened, was damaged by its excessive predictability. Both the My Lai and Kent State tragedies figured in the background of this tale about Frank Lewis (Brendan Fay), a super-patriotic World War II veteran, one of whose two sons, Sandy (Everett McGill), is a soldier in Vietnam, the other, Ronnie (Brian Farrell), being a militant pacifist.

Sandy returns from combat physically intact but, as in David Rabe’s Sticks and Stones, is haunted by the apparition of a Vietnamese woman (Tisa Chang). In this case, the ghost is that of a nurse he raped and killed during a village massacre. He is forever racked by guilty nightmares of the incident. The play’s major touch of irony is in having the pacifist brother killed by the National Guard during a campus antiwar demonstration.

Good intentions did not salvage this “slogan-bearing little drama,” which was “wandering and lost,” poorly written, sloppily melodramatic, and “murky,” according to Clive Barnes. Douglas Watt judged it “inept.” “His dialogue is clumsy and he has no ability to build a scene,” Watt said of the playwright, to which Richard Watts noted, “It is downright terrible.”

Previous entries:

Abelard and Heloise
Absurd Person Singular
“Acrobats” and “Line”
The Advertisement/
All My Sons
All Over
All Over Town
All the Girls Came Out to Play
Alpha Beta
L’Amante Anglais         
American Gothics
And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little       
And They Put Handcuffs on the Flowers
And Whose Little Boy Are You?
Anna K.
Anne of Green Gables
Any Resemblance to Persons Living or Dead
As You Like It
The Au Pair Man

Baba Goya [Nourish the Beast]
The Ballad of Johnny Pot
Barbary Shore
The Bar that Never Closes
The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel
The Beauty Part
The Beggar’s Opera
Behold! Cometh the Vanderkellens
Be Kind to People Week
Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill
Bette Midler’s Clams on a Half-Shell Revue
Black Girl
Black Light Theatre of Prague
Black Picture Show
Black Sunlight
The Black Terror
Black Visions
Les Blancs
Blasts and Bravos: An Evening with H,L. Mencken
Blue Boys
Bob and Ray—The Two and Only
Boesman and Lena
The Boy Who Came to Leave
A Breeze from the Gulf
Brother Gorski