Page 7


Dad, Poor Dad :: : In Texas . after a swim, beer is a natural On a hot summer day, a dip in a cool stream can be wonderfully refreshing. Equally refreshing when you’re relaxing afterwards with friends is a hearty glass of beer. There’s hardly another beverage around that suits what you do for fun as much as beer. Camping, hiking, or just lounging on a lawn chairbeer brings to each just the right touch of extra good living. Your familiar glass of beer is also a pleasurable reminder that we live in a land of personal freedomand that our right to enjoy beer and ale, if we so desire, is just one, but an important one, of those personal freedoms. In Texas … beer goes with fun, with relaxation UNITED STATES BREWERS ASSOCIATION, INC. 905 International Life Bldg., Austin 1, Texas Houston The situation dealt with in “Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama’s Hung You in the Closet and I’m Feeling So Sad” might well be the subject of a lecture in abnormal psychology. The play, which is now on stage at the Alley Theatre in Houston, is about an old favorite in American psychopathology the man-hating woman who both fears and feels contempt for all males. She emasculates her son, turning him into a sorry receptacle for her perverse, hateful “love.” She is, of course, a depraved monstershe can say, exulting, “He was weak, he was impotent, he was a child, he was mine.” The son is horribly maimed. He stutters; the only action of which he is capable is destruction: , He destroys his mother’s venus fly traps and her pet piranha fish, he even destroys a carnal girl who wants to share sexual pleasure with him. It’s really quite grim when one thinks about it. Luckily, however, one doesn’t, at least not in a realistic way, because the play is written satirically and has the ludicrous, zany quality of an undergraduate review. Arthur Kopit, the author, graduated from Harvard in 1959, and “Dad, Poor Dad” had its premiere at Harvard’s Loeb theatre the next year. John Wylie, the director of the Alley’s production, has captured and developed the play’s antic insanity. It moves at a quick pacethe audience, laughing all the way, just barely keeps up. It’s funny as hell and well worth seeing. Yet something is lost in this farcical treatment. A satire is a humorous entertainment, but it has a serious point. Without jeopardizing the play’s funniness, Wylie might have made the mother more clearly malignant, the son more aware of his own pathos, and the_ seductress more poignant in her frustration. Jim Hilburn, in a relatively minor role, manages to capture the slightly serious mood that was generally missing. He serves chiefly as a listener for Mrs. Rosepetal, the motherfor her gloating, twisted tale of how she has obtained a physically mummified husband and a mentally mummified son. Hilburn’s polished acting is full of ludicrous fatuities, but iK1 his reactions to Mrs. Rosepetal he maintains a slightly pained querulousness that points up the underlying grimness of what she tells him. Trent Jenkins performs well as the son, maintaining a clever balance between panic and amiability. Bettye Fitzpatrick seems to work a bit too hard, but her Mrs. Rosepetal is delightfully flamooyant at times. Lynn Kevin, as the se ductress, is quite beguiling in her gestures and facial expression, but her voice occasionally gets out of control. She apparently tries for something like Vivian Blaine’s comic naive-sexy intonation, but the result is uneven. “Dad, Poor Dad” will be at the Alley until the end of July. No performance on Mondays. The Point Summer Theater, an outdoor theater at Ingram, has been staging “The Student Prince,” the second of its season’s five productions. A young cast, lusty singing, and impressive sets and costumes carry off this Sigmund Romburg chestnut fairly well. The tunes are familiar and prettycharming to listen to as the moon rises pomegranted red on the horizon left of stage and thousands of stars come out overhead. The story, of course, is tiresomely quaint. Their dramatic thinness notwithstanding, the major roles have been handled competently. The chorus, however, is spotty. The girls are quite animated, but most of the boys look wooden, like reluctant performers in a Sunday school recitation program. The Point Theatre is a part of Ingram’s Hill Country Arts Foundation, a sort of summer artists’ colony near Kerrville. In addition to the theatre, with its apprenticeships for young people, the foundation’s projects include courses in painting, ceramics, and weaving and an arts program for children. Tourist accommodations are plentiful and the climate is appealing, so aficionados of the arts flock to Ingram for weekends and vacations. “The Student Prince” closes July 12. Then : July 15-26, a who-done-it, “Witness for the Prosecution”; the Rogers and Hammerstein musical “Carousel” July 29 to August 23; from August 26 to September 6, “The Happy Time,” a comedy. The theatrical offerings at Ingram are an attraction, but the area’s real drama is in its landscape. Some of the valleys on route 16 between Kerrville and San Antonio are the scene of a desperate struggle between twisted black trees and bleak, white rock-covered hills. Even the dead trees and gray, fallen branches look energetic, suggesting a defiant agony. JOE ADCOCK July 10, 1964 13