Even Operas Have Ancestors ...As the Curtain Falls

A poet once warned that the world would end not with a bang, but with a whimper. A similar fate

A poet once warned that the world would end not with a bang, but with a whimper. A similar fate awaited the final theatre column for this magazine--or so I feared. A little research proved how misinformed I was. Most of the offerings are a bit offbeat--no classic Broadway musicals this week. But the original, off-the-beaten-track nature of these shows should make them an especially welcome break from three-month--old lecture notes. And you deserve a break today, or on one of these days crammed with papers and review sessions and lab writeups. The people involved in these shows have donated weeks of their time; you can donate a couple of hours of yours. It's a nice way to acknowledge their effort, theirs and that of this columnist, who has tirelessly investigated and compiled this stuff for you. Not that I haven't loved doing it.

Without further moralizing or mush, let's send in the shows:

Figarocontinues to romp nightly at the Loeb. As the ads proclaim, "it's not the opera." Instead, this production is a spliced-together version of "The Barber of Seville" and "The Marriage of Figaro," two eighteenth-century French comedies. Both were written by Beaumarchais, who was somewhat of a shady character; in addition to play-writing, he smuggled French guns to American revolutionaries. "The Marriage" was quite daring for its time, since it contained a speech by the servant Figaro that lamented and raged against the privileges of the nobility--some say it hastened the onset of the French Revolution. You don't want to miss something that may have contributed to the overthrow of a monarchy, do you? Figaro plays tonight, tomorrow night and Saturday; tickets available at the Loeb box-office.

Still within the realm of comedy, let's move across the Channel, move up a hundred years, and move over to Winthrop House, to a joint Harvard Gilbert & Sullivan Players and Winthrop Drama Society Production--or rather, productions. This attraction is a double bill. One of the shows has not been presented here since 1875. It's an opera called Cox and Box, written by Arthur Sullivan in his pre-Gilbert Days. However, the opera in a sense led to the team's establishment. W.S. Gilbert, a critic for "Punch" magazine, wrote a nasty review of the show. He loved the music, but hated the dialogue, by F.C. Burnand. Gilbert also wrote to Sullivan, modestly suggesting that he, Gilbert, would make a much better collaborator. The rest is history. Based on a Victorian play, the opera is only forty minutes long; the show that precedes it, called Good Evening, runs a good bit longer. But you won't be bored, believe me, because the humor of the British comedy team of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, who originally wrote and performed in this two-man show, is nothing short of infectious. Cook and Moore were part of the original Beyond the Fringe group, and recently performed with Monty Python's gang. This Winthrop House Good Evening produced on Broadway several years ago. The entire evening of British comedy runs tonight, tomorrow, and Saturday, with an additional late show on Friday, in the Winthrop JCR; tickets available at the door.

Prefer your comedy with some psychological thrills instead of social satire? Then check out Dumbwaiter, a one-acter by Harold Pinter, at the Explosives B Cabaret. It's a vaudeville comedy, in the tradition of Laurel and Hardy, that will keep you on the edge of your seat in suspence (according to director Peter Sellars). A piece for two actors--we can't seem to escape these British two-man works this weekend-Dumbwaiter pre-dates the playwright's well-known "Homecoming," and might be interesting for those who'd like to see early Pinter, as well as those who want to sit on their seat's edge. The show plays tonight and tomorrow night at 11:00 in the Cabaret, located in the Adams House D entry basement. Like all the Explosive B shows, Dumbwaiter is free.

Junior Common Rooms will be jumping with music this week and next. In addition to the aforementioned Cox and Box, two original musical revues premiere at Kirkland and Lowell Houses. The Kirkland show, called Four Play, plays May 12, 13, 14, with two shows on the 12th and 13th. The musical is about college theatre, appropriately enough. Lowell's revue, entitled Riches, is a bit wider in scope; it presents several ballads dealing with young women and the coming-of-age process. Performances are this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with two Saturday show. Riches is free; tickets for Four Play are available at the door.

If the reading period atmosphere permeates--and spoils--Cambridge for you, then head for Copley Square and the Newbury Street Theater's production of Daughter of Earth. The play is a biographical drama of the life of Agnes Smedley, based on a novel of hers. In this adaptation, Smedley--who wrote several books on the development of Communist China, derived from her experiences as a journalist--develops from frontier child to waitress to Berkeley student to activist and newspaperwoman, analyzing first Germany and then China. Deeply committed to the Communist Revolution, she became the target of anti-Red feeling in her native United States, and lived the rest of her life in England. Daughter of Earth opens May 12th; for information and reservations, call 261-8894.

Currently playing in Boston, at the Charles Playhouse, is a short (29 minute) comedy. Called Schubert's Last Serenade' it poses the question: Can a radical Radcliffe Sophomore find true happiness with a hard hat? In an "elegant French restaurant"? Amid the "smashing of violins"? The play is performed with Stage III, which is the actual restaurant at the Charles Playhouse. Shows are Wednesday through Sunday; call the box-office at 338-7807 for more info.

No, we haven't neglected you dance fans. If you're still around, check out the Expansions Dance Company, which will perform June 2, 3, 9, and 10. Under the direction of Consuelo Baraka, the program will feature dances in the style of blues, folk, jazz, and spiritual modern ballet. At the Agassiz Theatre, 8:00 all four nights; tickets at the door.

And that's all, folks. It's been real. See you next year.ANDREI SERBAN, celebrated Roumanian director, will discuss "The Search for a New Theatre" Monday, May 8, at 4:00 p.m., at the Loeb Drama Center.