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Almost Is Not Enough

Forbidden Fruits by Paul Frohock '79 at the Loeb-Ex through Saturday

By David Dalquist

FOR AMATEURS and professionals, it is commendable to write, direct and act in a play, but to take only eight days for rehearsals and production is somewhat self-defeating, to expect any production to come together at show time, or even to reach the audience.

Paul Frohock '79 is the ambitious writer-actor-director who tries to mold Forbidden Fruits into a cogent plea for environmental sanity. The play lacks the credibility, acting, and surprise, however, that it needs to impress the polluting zealot with the gravity and foolishness of his actions. Polluting zealots aside, the play never seems to establish a rapport with its audience, leaving Forbidden Fruii up on the stage, away from the audience, a simple dialogue between some actors.

The production lacks the perspective it would have had with more time and rehearsal. The directing and writing are mediocre and yet, the acting is its glaring fault.

Paul Frohock '79, the ambitious playwright-actor-director who tries to mold Forbidden Fruits deals with a small, rural town with latent ambitions. A corporate nuke, Mr. Prometheus (David Lamb), charms the townspeople into believing his promises about the advantages of having a nuclear power plant in their town. The naive, eager community leaders, led by their mayor (Roy Stevenson), embrace the idea behind the plant and the potential wealth it promises. Only one maverick breaks the unanimity of the town's acceptance. Bailey, played haphazardly by Doug Floyd, questions the wisdom of having such a destructive potential in such a fragile surrounding. More importantly, he questions man's wisdom to tamper with natural balances, to toy with the atom.

Bailey is the keeper of the flame, the one who tells us to leave nature's other creations alone. The writing gets corny at times, referring to nature as "the Powers," and already overdone Star Wars metaphor. Of course frivolous mankind gets ripped up in its ignorance as the power plant blows up, killing many of its staunchest supporters (who were working at he plant) and leaving a symbolic power plant itself. The citizens' unquestioning radioactive cloud over the helpless town.

The accident at the plant is too much a simple result of human zeal to be believed. First, a nuclear explosion would do much more than destroy the plant itself. The citizens' unquestioning acceptance of the plant lends even less credibility to the accident, as well as to the plot.

Bailey is the alienated loner who preaches the pure, and he is rejected and betrayed by all of his peers. He gets into a bar-room fight with Hogan, a proponent and potential foreman of the plant. The people in the town resent being publicly lectured by Bailey, and Hogan gives Bailey the beating that is supposed to teach him silence.

Bailey receives an unfair trial, of course, and is stuffed away in prison. He is ironically saved from the nuclear holocaust by his own oppressors, the creators of the blast.

THE STAGE IS BARE, and the action is conducted in two spotlights. Sam, played by Frohock himself, is the old bearded, sagelike narrator of the story. He sits in a chair to the left of the stage throughout the production, pooping in and out of the dialogue going on on the right side of the stage. The lighting is easy enough, panning onto either Sam or the actors to the right of the stage.

The play's conclusion has Sam wheeling his 20-year-old granddaughter, a victim of the plant explosion, out on the porch for some sun. She is heir to the vanity, zeal, and foolishness of the generation between she and Sam. For Sam's generation is too wise, ours is not, and we are haunted for our smartness by our very own progeny.

While the prophecy of this play is a valid one, it is also one which has been done, and re-done too many times in the past few years. Forbidden Fruits is one of those ideas which have been done "too many times." In order to produce a play on this subject which is a memorable and lasting drama, it needs to be original. Not necessarily original in what it tries to purport, but original in the way it presents its theme. Forbidden Fruits offers a different stage set-up, but the dialogue and plot are too naive, simple and predictable to be memorable or meaningful.

The plot, shallow by itself, is further hampered by poor acting. Frohock is the only actor on the stage who does a creditable job, and all the others are too frequently trapped by memory lapses and forgotten lines. These slips occur far too often for even the most patient viewer to dismiss. The lines seem so unnatural to the actors at times that some actors start saying the lines--stop--then reword what they were saying, presumably to the way they were written. These errors eradicate whatever respect the play may have established with its audience--and that makes Forbidden Fruit a verboten show.

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