Wednesday, September 23, 2020



Stephen Collins, Meat Loaf, Seth Allen, Kimberly Farr, Kim Milford, Larry Marshall, Terry Kiser, Tom Leo (on floor).

MORE THAN YOU DESERVE [Musical/Drugs/Journalism/Military/Prostitution/Sex/Vietnam/War] B: Michael Weller; M: Jim Steinman; LY: Michael Weller and Jim Steinman; D: Kim Friedman; CH: Scott Salmon; S: Miguel Romero; C: Lowell Detweiler; L: Martin Aronstein; P: New York Shakespeare Festival; T: Public Theater; T: Public Theater/Estelle R. Newman Theater (OB); 11/21/73-1/13/74 (63)

Book writer Michael Weller attempted here a vicious black comedy about American involvement in Vietnam and its capacity for massacres like the one at My Lai in this M*A*S*H-like parody (with hints of South Pacific) of war comedies. However, his enthusiasm led him to create an inconsistent, insufficiently amusing show that added little to the genre.

The offbeat plot, set at an army base in Vietnam, concerned such characters as a female foreign correspondent (Kimberly Farr) who becomes a nymphomaniac after enjoying being gang raped; a manly soldier who loses his sexual prowess, dies, and has his personality transferred to another sexually troubled GI; the attraction of the reporter for the base commander (Fred Gwynne) and the latter’s decision to modernize the local village in the manner of middle America; and, among other things, the commander’s ability to have sex with the reporter only when he is handling a gun.

Brothels, prostitutes, and all sorts of drug use provided a background against which the bizarre comedy was enacted. Rather than satirizing American war policies, the show concentrated on exploring the theme of war’s capacity to sexually stimulate otherwise impotent persons.

More Than You Deserve had a decent rock score, much of it a pastiche of World War II movie songs. Sample song titles included "Give Me the Simple Life," "Could She Be the One?," "Mama, You Better Watch Out for Your Daughter," "More Than You Deserve," "Go, Go, Go Guerillas," "Midnight Lullaby," and so on.

The lyrics, wrote Mel Gussow, had “a precision and pungency,” but the book and direction were too diffuse for even the excellent cast to overcome. “The gags are labored, the fantasy is unfollowable, the body-mikes are so blatant that the lyrics can’t be heard,” growled Walter Kerr. Edith Oliver found it occasionally possible to “ignore the flaws,” but was more often vexed by the author’s attempt at "seriousness . . . ; his stabs at satire, his gleeful, assumed Brechtian smirk at pain and death, and his contemptuous equating of sexual impotence with military leadership or capability . . . are superficial and secondhand.” As did most other critics, Oliver had kind words for the music, the company, and the visuals.

Cast members included some distinctive artists, including Leata Galloway, Mary Beth Hurt, Larry Marshall, Meat Loaf (the rock star who often performed Steinman’s music), Stephen Collins, Seth Allen, Terry Kiser, Ronald Silver, and Dale Soules.