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The Living Theatre: Enough Said

By James Lardner

The Living Theatre appears to aim at nothing more nor less than what it achieves. If it doesn't interlock one's nervous system with its own and, so doing, deny such standard points of external reference as time and place, this is because the actors care more about their work than about their audience. They seem to be saying, in properly oblique fashion, that an audience can take care of itself.

And of course it can. If the lighting were more liberally distributed over M.I.T.'s Kresge Auditorium during performance nights, I'd recommend one take a book. As it is, portable radios and board games are good alternatives. In either case the distraction should be made use of only as the occasion demands, and in either case it should make one better rather than worse able to appreciate the glories of the troupe, which are legion.

In Frankenstein, performed last weekend, the Living Theatre has constructed a remarkably flexible vehicle which has the added virtue of being a kind of epic monument to the Living Theatre. Staged on a huge jungle-jim with several long rectangular platforms, Frankenstein offers a multitude of technical challenges, most of which the company rises to in splendid style. Not that they are ever in complete harmony with their set, or it with them, but the interplay beween the two is worth following throughout. And a few effects, like the monster silhouette constructed out of better than a dozen individual bodies, really smother one in awe.

Having enjoyed two of its offerings (and having seen only two), I'm not sure the Living Theatre is worth arguing about, but it's worth seeing, and that's about the same thing.

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