Wednesday, July 1, 2020

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 From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975

Leonard Nimoy, Bibi Anderrsson
FULL CIRCLE [Drama/German/Politics/Romance] A: Erich Maria Remarquee; AD: Peter Stone; D: Otto Preminger; S: Robin Wagner; C: Hope Bryce; L: Jules Fisher; P: Otto Preminger and the John F. Kennedy Center; T: ANTA Theatre; 11/7/73-11/24/73 (21)

Josef Sommer, Bibi Andersson.
An old-fashioned melodrama with philosophical overtones, this earnest drama of 1945 Berlin just prior to the total capitulation of the Nazis in World War II, was the only play by famed novelist Erich Maria Remarque (All Quiet on the Western Front). It received respectful notices, but was written and produced in what Walter Kerr condemned as a “stagey” style that no longer could hold its own on Broadway. Only Swedish star Bibi Andersson’s performance as Anna, a German widow, rated widespread praise. The presence of TV star, Leonard Nimoy, Mr. Spock of “Star Trek,” was insufficient bait to lure theatregoers and the play closed in three weeks.

Leonard Nimoy, Linda Carlson, Bibi Andersson, 
Rohde (Nimoy), a political prisoner of the Nazis, has escaped from a concentration camp, taking refuge from the Gestapo at the widow’s apartment. Romance soon blossoms between the two. She dresses him in a Nazi uniform and helps him convince the Nazis who arrive to investigate that he is her soldier-lover. The Russians “liberate” that portion of Berlin. When they appear at the apartment, they attempt to talk Bohde into joining the communist cause. He refuses and is forced to go to a Russian concentration camp after a political debate that underlines the evils of both Nazism and communism.
Bibi Andersson, Leonard Nimoy, David Ackrloyd, Peter Weller.
The critics mostly ridiculed the play’s inflated rhetoric, splashy B-movie direction by major film director Otto Preminger, and obvious dramaturgy. Douglas Watt put it like this: “this creaky vehicle is so flat and predictable that you begin to anticipate each new plot development with sour confidence.” A cast including Linda Carlson, Max Brandt, Stan Wiklin, Josef Sommer, James Tolkan, David Ackroyd, and future movie star Peter Weller was soon looking for other employment.