M.C. Escher engraving: a shadow boxnof elusive geometry and inverted staircases,nserving the play’s motif ofnsmooth yet nightmarish “concealment.”nBut Yeargan translated hisntheme into stainless steel and backlightednglass, in the same chic blend ofnart deco, japonaiserie, and storewindowndisplay that has marked hisnwork for a decade. Upstage centernloomed a large, blood-red moon thatnwaxed and waned through the coursenof the play. A decorative nightscape ofnstars and a whirling-mirror effect forntwo ghostly appearances each contributednits due pizazz. In sum, the play’snSpanish castle was a chill hybrid of thentechnicolor “novel” scenes inset innPaul Schrader’s Mishima film and anspace station belonging to DarthnVader.nOn set, the characters (leather-clad,nreptilian) seemed as decorative andnimpermeable as its stainless steel postsnand beams. They were neither “Spanish”nnor “Jacobean,” of course. WhennBrustein tackled the pantomime weddingnof Beatrice and her new husband,nwe were treated to some slow-motionndiablerie: a roomful of ghostwalkers,nhands upturned like rabbinical KingnTuts, underwent an inexplicable ritenconducted by a black-hooded penitente.nMy point is not merely the rite’snstrangeness. In “inventing” a creepynmarriage ceremony out of a jumble ofnunrelated iconic gestures, the directornutterly quashed the true irony of thenscene: the familiar, festive, seeminglynoptimistic wedding of a girl alreadynpoisoned by murder and betrayal. Ifnthere is no recognizable sacrament,nthere can be no blasphemy. ButnBrustein has had a soft spot for counterfeitn”black Masses” ever since hisn1975 Don Juan.nThis Changeling is not located in anrecognizable European culture at all,nnot even in a rigid, patriarchal, vindictivenone. It is a collage of free-floatingn”ideas” about Male Dominance; ideas,nmoreover, held by artists who seemnnot even to be in genuine sympathynwith the woman in the case. Yet it isnnot intellectually coherent enough tonbe allegory, and neither impassionednnor “political” enough to aim at thenmark set by nightmare-fancyingnGerman Expressionists. It is a storewindowndisplay, for a boutique of culturalnalienations.nVermandero, the castle’s lord andnBeatrice’s father, goes everywhere accompaniednby two young ladiesndressed in white. Since we learn earlynin the play that Beatrice is his onlyndaughter, these two ubiquitous teenagersnremain a source of mystery: Whonon earth are they? Then, late in thenplay during a predawn fire alarm, wenlearn: they are Vermandero’s bed companions,nboth of them. Beatrice’snfather, the iron-willed overseer ofnhis daughter’s reputation, comesnequipped, publicly, with a brace ofnLolitas. Never mind plausibility inneven the most corrupt of MediterraneannChristian cultures: Male AuthoritynFigures Are Slavers of Women—and,nipso facto, lecherous old crocks intonthe bargain.nAnd so the weirdly scholarly andnnaive Alsemero, Beatrice’s straitlacednhusband, turns into a vulgar wifebeaternas soon as he learns of hernderelichon. He mops the floor up withnher, in a Punch-and-Judy show thatnserves to deflect totally the horrific,nunhinging shock he has undergone.nTomaso, the vengeful brother of thenmurdered fiance, adds to the scriptednhorrors of the final murder-suicide annunscripted burst of violence: he castratesnthe dead De Flores. (Why? DenFlores only killed his brother; he didnnot rape him.) Actually, Tomaso sawsnoff De Flores’s stuffed codpiece, a turnnof Grand Guignol that would be silly ifnit were not repellent, or repellent if itnwere not silly.nAnd so Brustein, who has lucidlynwritten oiThe Changeling’s “profoundnpsychology,” eschews both psychologynand profundity in a production that isnstrikingly decorative, occasionally startling,nopaquely superficial, and deathlyncold. Brustein also has written of thenplay’s “cloudy ethical construct.” Hadnhe really entered into its moral worldn(approve of that world or no), henwould have found nothing cloudy butnhis own “postmodern” reflexes. It isnnot the clumsy acting that finally putsnone off; nor is it even the production’snsleekness. It is the radical alienation ofnthe company from Middleton’s ethicalnmilieu—which is to say, the milieun(for all the extreme and unbalanced elementsnthat Middleton chose to examine)nof historic civilization, includingnits presumptive values of marital chastity,nhonesty, and parental authority.nTwenty-one years ago in a PartisannReview article, Leslie Fiedler pinnednthe label “the new mutants” on ancoming generation whose deracinationnseemed to him to be total. The mutantsnare now holding the theatricalnmirror up to our society of yuppies,nsadofeminists, and “respectable” cokesnorters,nand the images they reveal,neven in productions of classics, combineninto a theater of what critic ElinornFuchs has celebrated as “postness.”n”We are post-industrial,” she croonednin an article of a couple of years ago,n”post-capitalist, post-humanist, postapocalyptic,neven post-cognitive.”nWe might prefer the old changelings,nwho were merely madmen, ccnRaymond J. Pentzell is chairman ofnthe department of theater and speechnat Hillsdale College.nSCREENnnnDancing a Narrown(Party) Linenby E. Christian KopffnWhite Nights; Produced and directednby Taylor Hackford; From a storynby James Goldman; United Artists.nThe tradition of the American musicalnfilm is a grand one, reaching back as itndoes to the great days of Busby Berkeley,nof Astaire and Rogers, of DicknPowell and ZaSu Pitts. It suffers fromnone defect, inherent in its genre: hownto find a plausible or at least not risiblenplot to tie together the songs and dances.nIn recent years, as audience tastesnhave grown less sophisticated—lessncapable of comprehending generic differencesnand more demanding of simplenrealism—the musical has fallennon hard times. Clint Eastwood andnRobert Duvall will play a countrynsinger or a fan who frequents countrynmusic bars. Barbra Streisand sang hernsongs as voice-overs to her characters’nthinking, much as Laurence Olivierndid the soliloquies in his Hamlet.nIn White Nights Taylor Hackfordnhas returned to the older tradition ofnmusicals, the tradition of fitting thenmusical numbers into plans for a newnshow. The context of the show isnrather different from the motif we havenAPRIL 1986/49n