Saturday, March 6, 2021

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 From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975

Gregory Trigani, Paula Maliandi, Tom Kindle.
THE SOLDIER [Drama/Family/Mental Illness/Romance/Vietnam/War] A: Nick Bellitto; D: Eleanore Chapin; S: Richard Ferrugio; L: O.B. Lewis; P: The Apeiron Company; T: Provincetown Playhouse (OB); 4/10/73-4/18/73 (8)

A mediocre drama on a commonplace 70s subject, the problems of the returning Vietnam vet. Johnny DiCeasar (Tom Kindle) returns a hero, his parents smother him with affection, and his girlfriend, Susan (Paula Maliandi [shout out!]), is happy to have him back. However, he soon learns that Susan and his brother, Barry (Gregory Tigani), have been lovers, a fact known to his parents but one they were afraid to divulge. He loses his job, becomes a heavy drinker, and suffers guilty nightmares about the killing he did in Vietnam. After various frustrations, he loses his mind, brands his parents as monsters, and is taken away to a mental institution. 

According to Clive Barnes, the play suffered from a lack of originality, “imagination,” and “insight,” despite its being “sincere and even serious.” It contained evidence of craft . . . both construction and writing,” but, to Richard Watts, it was “overwrought and heavy-handed.” He found the evening one of “tiresome lugubriousness.” Douglas Watt detected “a genuine feeling of pity” that redeemed the work from total failure; otherwise it was clumsily pasted together and directed.”

Regarding the performances, Barnes added, “This low‐keyed domestic tragedy . . . has a very alert and promising performance by Tom Kindle as the returning soldier. Of the rest, Sam Locante can be singled out for his performance as the much‐troubled father.”