"Fifth of July," a 1978 Circle Repertory Company hit, is receiving a Broadway production at the New Apollo theather.The Lanfort Wilson comedy about what became of several '60s activists has been somewhat revised and has been recast in three major roles.
The production stars Circle Rep alumnus christopher Reeve in a finely sensed performance as Kenneth Talley Jr., the legless Vietnam veteran determined to avoid the teaching commitment for which he has signed a contract. Freaky, foulmouthed copper heiress and would-be pop singer Gwen Landis is played by Swoosie Kurtz with surpassing comic brilliance. Aunt Sally Friedman -- the Sally Talley of "Talley's Folly" now advanced to slightly eccentric widowhood -- is appealing portrayed by Mary Carver.
Otherwise, "Fifth of July" relies on the excellent Circle Rep regulars of the original production. Marshall W. Mason has again directed a performance combining comic insights and humane concern for a group of middle Americans whose youthful fervor has subsided into uncomfortable resignation. In this segment of a contemplated five-play cycle, Mr. Wilson takes an unsentimental and in the end somewhat hopeful look at onetime campus rebels -- flower children whose flowers drooped and faded as they discovered that solidarity was not, after all, forever. John Lee Beatty's setting for a Lebanon, Missouri, farmhouse provides the hospitable, picturesquely rambling premises for Mr. Wilson's comic celebration of a less than glorious fifth.