|John Wardwell, Steven Keats, Raina Barrett, J.R. Marks, James Doerr. (Photo: Bert Andrews.)|
An idiosyncratic revival of Joseph Heller’s respected but unsuccessful 1968 satire about the toll of human life taken by war, and the difficulty of media-viewing audiences in recognizing the tragic dimensions of what they routinely see on their screens.
Taking its hint from the author’s Pirandellian equation of the stage of drama with the stage of life, this production went overboard in pointing up the metaphorical connection and offered “a grievous insult to the play,” growled Clive Barnes. Heavily stylized, lacking in Heller’s parodic tone, poorly acted, and consistently emphasizing rather than disguising the play’s weaknesses, the show bombed in Greenwich Village, closing in one night, and seems never to have been revived locally again.
Among the 14 names in the cast were James Doerr, Richard Kline, Gary Springer, J.R Marks, and Raina Barrett, the latter perhaps the best known because of her being in the original cast of Oh! Calcutta!
Note: Because of a problem with the original manuscript, the alphabetical sequence of entries was disrupted and the titles jumped from the U’s to the W’s, omitting the V’s. The correct alphabetical sequence will resume with the next entry.
Do you enjoy Theatre’s Leiter Side? As you may know, since New York’s theatres were forced into hibernation by Covid-19, this blog has provided daily posts on the hundreds of shows that opened in the city, Off and on Broadway, between 1970 and 1975. These have been drawn from an unpublished manuscript that would have been part of my multivolume Encyclopedia of the New York Stage series, which covers every show, of every type, from 1920 through 1950. Unfortunately, the publisher, Greenwood Press, decided it was too expensive to continue the project beyond 1950.
Before I began offering these 1970-1975 entries, however, Theatre’s Leiter Side posted over 1,600 of my actual reviews for shows from 2012 through 2020. The first two years of that experience were published in separate volumes for 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 (the latter split into two volumes). The 2012-2013 edition also includes a memoir in which I describe how, when I was 72, I used the opportunity of suddenly being granted free access to every New York show to begin writing reviews of everything I saw. Interested readers can find these collections on Amazon.com by clicking here.
Next up: Veronica’s Room.