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Stage Review : Too Little, Too Late In 'I Never Sang'

March 19, 1987|SYLVIE DRAKE | Times Theater Writer

Except for careful and well-defined performances by Eve Brenner (birdlike) and Bill Erwin (blustery) in the Megaw's revival of "I Never Sang for My Father," limited production values, humdrum direction and some lackluster acting serve to point up the incipient creakiness in Robert Anderson's 1968 script.

It's not only that time has made this drama about trans-generational anguish all too predictable until the eloquence of its final 10 minutes, but also that, in retrospect, its neorealistic structure seems better suited to the touching film that later was made of this play.

A stronger production than the Megaw's might have underscored the script's virtues and provided greater pleasure, but Rob Kastil's monotonous direction quickly dispels any hope of improvement.

Michael Holmes in the pivotal role of the son, Gene, substitutes a depressed look and hunched shoulders for a more faceted and energetic grasp of a character deeply needing to connect with a father who remains a stranger.

As the aging parents, Erwin and Brenner (pleasantly reminiscent of Lillian Gish, who created the role on Broadway) require (and deserve) much stronger support than they get for aspects of their own performances to flourish.

Careless casting of peripheral roles contributes to further slippage, keeping the overall production mechanical and inert. Ann Walker does liven things up with an assertive appearance in the play's second half as daughter Alice (disowned for marrying a Jew), but it's too little, too late.

Sets, credited to Geoffrey Rinehart, are virtually nonexistent and his lighting seems needlessly murky. The Megaw has had happier times at bat.

Performances at 17601 Saticoy St. in Northridge run Wednesdays through Saturdays, 8:30 p.m., Sundays at 5 p.m. with a special matinee on Saturday. Tickets 7:50-$12. Ends April 12. (818) 881-8166, after 2:30 p.m.

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