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The Playgoer

At the Agassiz Theatre

By Daniel Ellsberg

The structure of "Right You Are" follows a simple formula. In the first scene Pirandello's mouthpiece, Laudisi, tosses out a philosophical nugget: You can't know the truth about anyone. The other characters are dubious. The proof follows: Two strangers give lengthy testimony about each other, which aside from being extremely improbably, is contradictory. This throws everyone into a dither, except, of course, Laudisi, who goes around baiting the rest of the east and generally being offensive.

Despite its philosophical pretensions, the plays (small) dramatic effect depends on the frail crutch of the who-done-it: "Which one's the lunatic?" Even the outside chance that it might turn out to be Laudisi couldn't keep me on the edge of my seat very long.

The weakness of Idler's production must be blamed largely on the director, who gambled on surmounting the thinness of the material by turning the play into a farce. He seems to have convinced the actors that the tongue is swifter than the ear, so that by misdirecting the audience with frenzied gestures, meanwhile speeding through lines, they might hide the fact that the dialogue makes no pretense at being funny. The women, including Barbara Poses, Patricia Rosenwald, and Marilyn Welch succeed better than the men, but it's hard to fool a whole audience for three acts.

An alternative would have been to play the roles straight, delivering the speeches slower, at a lower pitch, and with more sublety. Dramatically, "Right You Are" would then have had to stand on its intellectual content, which could have been bolstered by more conviction on the part of the actors. On the other hand, that would certainly have made the play longer, probably duller, and possibly just as limiting, so perhaps the director and east did as well as they could.

As one of the potential lunaties, Virginia Carroll's restrained professional acting would have been outstanding in any cast. In the midst of this performance, her quiet underplaying is restful as well as effective. Hugh Schwartzberg's opposite performance is also competent, though more histrionic. It is only fair to mention that the actors did get a number of laughs: several for tripping over a carpet that doggedly entangled them.

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