Oregon daily emerald. (Eugene, Or.) 1920-2012, May 15, 1980, Section B, Page 7, Image 18

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    Theater
Mrs. Candour (Susan Mason) makes a point to Beniamin Backbite (Greg Spencer) in "The
School for Scandal." playing tonight through Saturday.
'hoto by Bob Baker
The School for Scandal
Written by Richard Brinsley .
Sheridan
Directed by Grant McKern ie
University Theatre
Tonight through Saturday
Allow me to introduce Lady
Sneerwell, head mistress of this
scandalous school. She, Mrs.
Candour, Benjamin Backbite
and many other venom-tongued
members of fashionable society
may be found killing characters
and ruining reputations in the
Robinson Theatre this wee
kend.
The occasion for all the
gossip-mongering is the
University Theatre’s brilliant
production of Sheridan's The
School for Scandal. Director
Grant McKernie and company
must have worked long and
hard to achieve the delicate
balance between satire and
sentiment required by this
delightful comedy of manners.
Sheridan’s ironic awarenesss
of humanity's pretensions and
duplicities rings as true as it
surely did when it opened at the
Drury Lane Theatre in London
over 200 years ago.
The story concerns two
brothers who wear contrasting
reputations. Joseph Surface
(Rod C. Septka) is admired by
nearly all as a man of style and
sentiment. His brother Charles
(David C. Johnston) in known to
be extravagant, even dissipat
ed. But their long-absent and
unrecognized uncle Oliver (Jim
Lundstrom) hatches a plan to
expose Joseph’s hypocritical
core and Charles’ neart of gold.
Meanwhile, the elder Sir Peter
Teazle (Jerry Walker), a pathe
tic and comic figure, is cuck
olded by his much younger wife,
the mischievously charming
Lady Teazle (Elise Jordan).
All the cast members inhabit
their flowing gowns, knee
breeches and powdered wigs,
the delightful products of Alex
Film
The Last Supper
Directed by Tomas Gutierrez
Alea
Screenplay by Tomas
Gonzalez, Maria Eugenia Haya,
and Tomas Guiterrez Alea
As Cubans flee by the thou
sands to this country, ostensibly
escaping Communist repres
sion, a Cuban film dealing with
repression in a much earlier era
is being screened in Eugene.
The Last Supper, a fairly recent
offering by noted Cuban direc
tor Tomas Gutierrez Alea, is
about slaves and masters and
the tortured relationship that
existed between them.
The owner of a sugar cane
plantation in 18th century Cuba,
known simply as “the Count,”
becomes overwhelmed by what
would now be called white guilt.
Feeling twinges of responsibility
toward the slaves who cut the
sugar cane that sweetens his
life, he attempts to expiate his
guilt and humble himself by
serving a recreated New Tes
tament last supper to 12 ran
domly selected slaves.
During the lavish dinner the
Count consciously likens him
self to Christ, casting the slaves
in the roles of Christ’s disciples.
The Count imitates Christ’s per
sonal humility toward His disci
ples by washing the slaves’ feet.
But the truth is the Count is still
a slave owner expecting his
slaves to be meek and hard
working. As the “enlightened”
French engineer modernizing
the plantation’s sugar mills says
at one point, the Count’s posi
tion allows him the luxury of
cleansing his sins.
The almost arrogant show of
humility to the slaves is to be
taken by them as an example of
how they should act toward
their master.
The slaves, a bit puzzled at
being hauled off to eat with the
master at his own table, aren't at
all eager to reciprocate the
master’s proferred humility,
especially when it is expected of
them 364 days a year.
Not troubled by white guilt,
they mistakenly assume their
master has undergone a gen
uine Christian transformation
and will take the slaves’ side
against the high-handed mulat
to overseer. The very next day,
with the Count back in his
Havana villa, the slaves revolt
against the overseer when he
attempts to make them work on
the traditional holiday of Good
Friday.
Predictably, a vengeful Count
returns to the burned-out plan
tation and in a fine sequence of
scenes lets fall his mask of
Christian gentility. The Count
has the 12 slaves who shared
his table hunted down,
revealing himself as a reaction
ary, motivated, perhaps, by the
fear of being murdered in a Hai
tian-style slave uprising.
The Last Supper is a beau
tifully photographed film. The
supper scene is reminiscent of a
rich still-life, contrasting intens
ly with the thin colors of the
outside plantation scenes.
Followers of the Latin Amer
ican Film Series may recall see
ing one of Gutierrez Alea's ear
lier films, Memories of Under
development, shown a couple
of months ago. The Last Supper
is the final offering in the series,
sponsored by the University
Romance Language Depart
ment, the Eugene Committee
for a Free Chile and MEChA.
The film plays Saturday at 2
p.m. at Cinema 7 and on cam
pus in 177 Lawrence Wednes
day at 7:30 p.m.
By Jim Gersbach
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andra Bonds and an enormnous
costume crew, as though
they’ve worn them all their lives.
The equally beautiful back
drops, designed by Jerry Wil
liams, smoothly transform the
set through several scene
changes.
But neither the costumes nor
the set for a moment overpower
the lightness and accuracy with
which everyone delivers Sher
idan’s barbed lines. The perfect
diction and timing becomes a
seemingly effortless part of the
minuet of action, carried out in
all the elegance of fashionable
society at an 18th century fes
tivity.
The “screen scene," one of
the most famous scenes in all
comedy theater, provides an
appropriately hilarious climax to
the most entertaining evening of
theater in Eugene this season.
I neither desire nor am able to
single out anyone from the un
iformly excellent cast. The
characters' frequent "asides"
to the audience, coupled with
their enthusiasm, make this a
play that kept me smiling in
between bouts of laughter.
If there's anyone out there
who reads play reviews but rar
ely attends a play, The School
for Scandal is the one to see.
By David Grober.
EUGENE TRAVEL
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