Wednesday, May 13, 2020

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 From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975


Rand Mitchell, Mary Cooper, David Atkinson, Christopher Hewett, Natalie Schafer, Brian Davies, Erika Slezak, Brian McKeon.
"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 If you'd like to know the background on how this previously unpublished series came to be and what its relationship is to my three The Encyclopedia of the New York Stage volumes (covering every New York play, musical, revue, and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.

THE CIRCLE [Dramatic Revival] A: W. Somerset Maugham; D: Gene Feist; S: Holmes Easley; C: Charles Gellatt; L: Richard Winkler; M: Philip Campanella; P: Roundabout Theatre Company; T: Roundabout Theatre (OB); 3/26/74-6/16/74 (96)

A staid revival of W. Somerset Maugham’s once-popular 1921 British drawing-room comedy about two upper-class couples. The older one—Lord Porteus (Christopher Hewett) and Lady Champion-Cheney (Natalie Schafer)—has been living in sin ever since running off years earlier, leaving the lady’s husband, Clive Champion-Cheney, MP (David Atkinson), in the lurch. The younger one is Arnold Champion-Cheney, MP (Brian Davies) and his wife, Elizabeth (Erika Slezak). Arnold is Lady Champion-Cheney’s son, and Elizabeth, contemplating leaving him, turns to her mother-in-law, who did something similar, for advice.

Clive Barnes was unmoved by the dated comedy of manners, and dismissed the play “as a potboiler with a rather uninteresting plot.” Walter Kerr agreed that it was old fashioned but admitted to having enjoyed the author’s “artifices.” And Edith Oliver said the work was “still strong). Barnes was bored by the “mostly adequate” performances, Kerr thought the company “charming,” and Oliver described the playing as ranging “from so-so to pretty good.” To Barnes this was “an evening oddly without relevance of charm,” but Kerr thought that if one went without expecting too much, the reward would be “a glossy good time.”

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 Chronicles of King Henry VI: Part I, Part II