Friday, May 22, 2020

113. CRYSTAL AND FOX. From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975

Rue MClanahan, Jo Anne Belanger, Chet Carlin, Will Hare.
"In Lieu of Reviews"

Reviews of live theatre being impossible during these days of the pandemic, THEATRE'S LEITER SIDE is pleased to provide instead accounts of previous theatre seasons--encompassing the years 1970-1975-for theatre-hungry readers. If you'd like to know the background on how this previously unpublished series came to be and what its relationship is to my three The Encyclopedia of the New York Stage volumes (covering every New York play, musical, revue, and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 entries beginning with the letter “A.” See the list at the end of the current entry.

CRYSTAL AND FOX [Drama/Irish/Marriage/Show Business] A: Brian Friel; D: Patrick Conlon; S: Philip Gilliam, Jennifer von Mayrhauser; L: Judy Rasmuson; M: Ted Auletta: P: Sheila Conlon; T: McAlpin Rooftop Theatre (OB); 4/23/73-5/13/73 (24)

Dublin and Los Angeles saw this play by Irish playwright Brian Friel before New York did, but not many in the latter city got to see it during its brief run following poor notices.

Crystal and Fox deals with Fox (Will Hare), the aging, self-destructive leader of a troupe of barnstorming Irish entertainers who feels alienated and dissatisfied with the nature of his company’s work and his sense of what his life has amounted to. H proceeds to tear the troupe apart, poisoning a dog that is used in an animal act, insulting and dismissing members of his troupe, ridding himself of their wagons, and finally driving away his wife, Crystal (Rue McClanahan). Alone, he hopes that, perhaps, as Walter Kerr said, “Greatness will rush in” to fill the void has willfully created.

There were too many melodramatic devices in the plotting, according to Clive Barnes, and the character of Fox was incompletely drawn. Kerr took the latter point as his chief argument, expressing the opinion that Fox had the makings of an archetypal individual but lacked the “amplitude” this would have required. To John Simon, Fox’s behavior was “sudden, arbitrary and schematic,” making the man “a boor and a bore.” There were few positive comments about the production, Simon calling it “visually tacky and histrionically bankrupt.”

Rue McClanahan later scored a huge success on TV’s “Golden Girls.” One of the minor characters was played by Brad Davis, who later gained fame on screen for Midnight Express.

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
Brief Lives
Brother Gorski
Bullshot Crummond
The Burnt Flower Bed
Button, Button
Buy Bonds, Buster

The Cage
Candide (1)
Candide (2)
The Candyapple
Captain Brassbound’s Conversion
The Caretaker
La Carpa de los Raquichis
The Carpenters
The Castro Complex
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
The Changing Room
Charles Abbott and Son
Charley’s Aunt
Charlie Was Here and Now He’s Gone
Chemin de Fer
The Cherry Orchard
The Chickencoop Chinaman
The Children
Children! Children!
Children in the Rain
Children of the Wind
The Children’s Mass
A Chorus Line
The Chronicle of Henry VI: Part 1, Part II,
The Circle
Clarence Darrow
Cold Feet
Conditions of Agreement
Coney Island Cycle
The Constant Wife
The Contractor
The Contrast
The Constant Wife
The Country Girl
Crazy Now
The Creation of the World and Other Business
Crown Matrimonial
The Crucible