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STAGE WIRE

'Terra Nova' Completes Japan Tour

June 20, 1987|DAN SULLIVAN | Times Theater Critic

A troupe from the Mark Taper Forum has just completed a brief Japanese tour, which seems to have been a critical success.

"Seems," because the translations of the Japanese reviews are a little rough.

The play was a revival of the Taper's 1979 production of Ted Tally's "Terra Nova," concerning Robert F. Scott's fatal race to the South Pole.

Jun Watanabe of the Tokyo Shimbun liked the simple set (by Peter Wexler), the skillful direction (by Gordon Davidson) and the natural acting (Donald Moffat again played Scott).

Watanabe was also interested to see that the play showed Scott, the idealist, losing to Roald Amundsen, the pragmatist. Japan had seen examples of "this symptom" too.

But the critic had some problems with the script. For example: "If there had been several episodes of his party members as well as Scott's struggle (with much depth), the show would be a more stimulating one than it is a human lesson."

We are sure that this reads better in the original.

Toen Kitagawa of the Yomiuri Shimbun thought that the play exposed "the inside of (a) tragic man" and that the production was "a good mixture of realism and abstraction"

However, "the aspect of the playwright, Ted Tally, is pretty sarcastic." Maybe that should be the "outlook" of the playwright.

Helen Kay in the English-language Daily Yomiuri called the play "perfect for the summer"--all that imaginary snow and ice.

Underwritten by the Shochiku Corp., the tour took the Taper actors to Yokohama, Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya as well as Tokyo. They were tickled to note that the next attraction at Tokyo's Sunshine Theatre was "Children of a Lesser God."

A LONDON MYSTERY: "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," Rupert Holmes' musical version of Dickens' unfinished murder novel, got murdered by the London critics.

"How this musical came to run on Broadway and win a fistful of awards is the greatest puzzle of them all," wrote Jack Tinker in the Daily Mail.

"This is not much of a transatlantic response to "Nicholas Nickleby," sniffed the Financial Times' Michael Coveney.

The Standard's Milton Shulman found the ending "a ramshackle bit of audience participation. If I had been asked to vote on who had murdered the musical I would have plenty of nominations, including Holmes, Wilford Leach, the director, and Graciela Daniel, the choreographer."

ANOTHER PUZZLE: Who killed the little princes? Shakespeare says that Richard III did. Not so, says the Richard III Society.

An English anthropologist, Theya Molleson, has recently examined two skeletons found centuries ago in London Tower, using all the latest methods--X-rays and such.

"The only conclusions I came to were that the skeletons are very likely those of the two princes and that they died about 1484," she told Roman Rollnick of United Press International. "I don't think you can conclude they were murdered or killed by Richard III."

IN QUOTES: Alfred Christie, director of the Hampton, N.H., Playhouse, in the New York Times: "We can do one serious play a season and this year 'Biloxi Blues' is it."

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