Pulitzer Prize-winning poet-and a rock hero who shouldn't have been
New York — My Own Stranger Adapted for the stage by Marilyn Campbell from the writings of Anne Sexton. Conceived and directed by Linda Laundra.
This drama at the Provincetown Playhouse commemorates the life of Anne Sexton , a Pulitzer Prize poet who began writing at 30 and whose distinguished literary-academic career was clouded by periodic mental illness. Adapter Marilyn Campbell has excerpted a verse, letters, and interviews to create the portrait of a talented but troubled New England woman who committed suicide in 1974 at the age of 46.
The subjective treatment employs a trio of actresses - Miss Campbell, Nancy-Elizabeth Kammer, and Pat Lysinger - to create a three-faces-of-Anne image as the writer observes herself (''I see myself as one who sees another'') and the world around her. Though perhaps contrived, the triplication is not objectionable. It enlivens the recital. The fragmented impressions recollect horrific childhood memories, academic experiences, elopement at 19, Midwestern matronhood, and Mrs. Sexton's discovery (after listening to a public TV program) that she is a writer. Later, there are problems with drugs and alcohol as well as recurrent hospitalizations.
Filled with lyric and descriptive images, ''My Own Stranger'' is by turns touching, funny, ironic, and occasionally savage. The material seems somewhat slight and overly self-obsessed for a whole evening in the theater. Director Linda Laundra, who coadapted and coproduced the Writers Theater production, has achieved stage action through patterns of movement for her trio of actresses.
The prevailing tone of the retrospective is muted and modulated. It extends to all the visual and physical embellishments: the neutral setting by Christina Weppner, the brownish costumes by Clifford Capone, the traceried lighting by Robby Monk, and even the incidental music by Richard Kassel. Every element has been conscientiously attuned to poetic sensibility and intense but discreet self-examination. The acting skillfully conforms to the concept. As an overall piece of creative theater, ''My Own Stranger'' proves to be more than a staged reading and less than a dramatic entertainment.
Starring Patrick Jude, Lisa Mordente. Rock musical with book and lyrics by Leo Rost, music and lyrics by Jimmy Horowitz. Directed and staged by Don Price.
''Eat, drink and sing the madrigal blues.
Christopher Marlowe is paying his dues.''
So runs a typical refrain as the chorus hails the transfigured hero of the new rock musical at the Rialto Theater. Dues payers also include Willy Shakespeare, ''QE I'' (as Queen Bess calls herself), and actor Richard Burbage. It is difficult to imagine what they ever did to deserve the impositions and indignities inflicted by the divisers of this misguided entertainment. Kit Marlowe is described as a 16th-century man with a 20th-century mind. ''Marlowe'' itself is mindless.
The travesty leaves a Broadway playgoer wonderstruck - the wonder being how ''Marlowe'' ever got beyond the audition stage. Whatever talent happens to be present - Patrick Jude, for instance, in the title role - is misused. Casting Lisa Mordente as a liberated Elizabethan feminist masquerading as a boy in order to play women's parts at the Globe suggests a debt to British pantomime. It was not a happy notion. ''Marlowe'' is the kind of show that gives gaudy rubbish a bad name.