Saturday, May 1, 2021

547. 22 YEARS. From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975

Frank Girardeau, Kristen Marie. (Photo: William E. Miller,)
22 YEARS [Drama/Biographical/Crime/Drugs/Prison] A/D: Robert Sickinger; S: Robert King; L: Gary Marec; P: Jeff Britton i/a/w Manhattan Theatre Club; T: Stage 73 (OB); 1/4/72-1/16/72 (16)

Charles Manson, leader of the cult called The Family, which carried out a horrible multiple murder whose victims included screen actress Sharon Tate (an event recently dramatized in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), had spent 22 years of his wretched life behind bars, thus providing the title for this spurious attempt to blame society and drugs for Manson’s misdeeds. The large-cast play, which included two songs by Manson himself, was termed a “rockumentary,” and had been developed in group workshops using improvisational techniques.

Although insufficiently demonstrated, 22 Years sought to depict Manson as a nonviolent mystic imbued with “charitable” impulses. “[R]arely dull,” the play, wrote Arthur Sainer, was “an adult piece of drama, filled with theatrical intelligence and, for all its fuzziness, . . . distinctive.” Mel Gussow disagreed, feeling that the argument that “violence, . . . massacre and mutilation are as American as apple pie” was invalid and “unconvincingly dramatized.”

The only name in the cast of 26 that stands out today is that of Chaz Palminteri.

Readers of this blog who may be interested in my Theatre's Leiter Side review collections (one with a memoir), covering almost every show of 2012-2014, will find them at by clicking here

Next up: Twigs.