|Blythe Danner, Martha Henry. Photos: Martha Swope.|
|George Pentecost, Rene Auberjonois.|
|Blythe Danner, Stephen McHattie.|
Rabb used the huge revolve to bring actors and set pieces on and off smoothly, but had his players lounging about all over the carpeted floor rather than seated in chairs. The expansive spatial arrangement forced actors to act alone rather than in ensemble, making “each character . . . a lost soul isolated in the contemplative limbo of the poet’s mind,” sighed Henry Hewes.
Words used to describe the general effect were “tiresome” (Edith Oliver), “boredom” (Harold Clurman), “heavy-handed” (Richard Watts), and “slow-moving” (Gottfried). Julius Novick could find no unifying reason for [the production’s] existence,” and Clurman detected “no core of intention, no clear line to hold the play together.”
|Company of Twelfth Night.|
Miscasting was charged by several, especially John Simon, who could not buy the colorblind casting; he made cutting remarks about the work of Black actors Moses Gunn (Orsino), Cynthia Belgrave (Maria), and Harold Miller (Fabian). The universally appraised gem of the evening was Blythe Danner’s Viola. Her beauty, clarity of speech, and bearing made her presence invigorating; although I usually remain neutral in recording productions I attended, I remember much of her glowing performance even now, half-a-century later. Rene Auberjonois was a very good Malvolio, and there were decent moments in Leonard Frey’s Aguecheek and Martha Henry’s Olivia.
Two or three reviewers professed much pleasure with the revival, including Douglas Watt, who thought it “grand” and “enchanting.” Clive Barnes called it “a charming, magical view of the play,” though lacking in “depth” and “shadows.”
Company members included Robert Christian as Valentine, Sydney Walker as Toby Belch, George Pentecost as Feste, Philip Bosco as Antonio, Stephen McHattie as Sebastian and Ray Fry as Priest.
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Next up: 22 Years.