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STAGE WIRE

London's 'Circe And Bravo' Praised

July 05, 1986|DAN SULLIVAN | Times Theater Critic

Good reviews from London for Donald Freed's political thriller "Circe and Bravo," first seen at Los Angeles' MET Theater in 1984.

Faye Dunaway stars in the London production, at the Hampstead Theatre, and naturally the critics focused on her. Michael Billington of the Guardian found her "vivid and expressive" in the role of "an American First Lady going off her trolley at Camp David." And Rosalie Horner of the Daily Express found her "compelling." Sheridan Morley of Punch found her "coruscatingly funny."

There was praise, too, for Freed's script. While Billington suspected that "it might fall to pieces without a strong actress," John Barber of the Daily Telegraph called it "a thriller that has something to say," and Jeremy Kingston of the Times found it "a tense play that has its shortcomings but never forfeits our attention."

"Circe" was directed by Harold Pinter, whom Morley compared to George Cukor in his ability to draw "immensely strong performances from hugely starry ladies." (Pinter also directed Lauren Bacall in "Sweet Bird of Youth.") A transfer to the West End may be in the cards.

Pretty good reviews from New York for "Sills and Company," an L.A. hit transplanted to the Lambs Club Theatre on 44th Street.

Variety called the ad-lib revue "spontaneous, joyous and utterly relaxing for the audience, which mercifully isn't impelled to participate, but politely invited to throw out suggestions for skits."

Julius Novick of the Village Voice: "The players play together with the fluidity of a basketball team. The point is not to score big climactic baskets; the point is how resourcefully, how gracefully, the ball is kept in the air." Novick felt a limitation, though, in the show's "lack of content."

A second company keeps "Sills and Company" going at home.

Not such good reviews from Washington for Peter Sellars' production of "Ajax" for the American National Theatre (ANT) at the Kennedy Center.

Sellars' approach to Sophocles' tragedy struck David Richards of the Washington Post as even more flamboyant and audacious than his treatment of "The Count of Monte Cristo." However: "This bold and brazen gamble pays highly erratic dividends. It can only further alienate the popular audience that ANT needs to stay in business."

Hap Erstein of the Washington Times spoke of "arresting visual images followed by stretches of static boredom," and thought the production "steeped in a feeling of arrogant pride."

Both critics praised Howie Seago, a deaf actor, in the title role. Richards: "His rugged face is a map of primal emotions . . . his hands speak with thundering power."

Neither liked a contemporary "satyr play" that Sellars had appended to the play "The Bob Hope War Zone Special." Neither, apparently, did Sellars. It was dropped after a few performances.

The La Jolla Playhouse will see the Kennedy Center's "Ajax" in September--an exchange deal for its production of "Shout Up a Morning."

QUOTE OF THE WEEK. German novelist Heinrich Boll: "All written matter is aimed against death."

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