stupidity swells when simple humannterms are hopelessly mauled by thenscript, which presents the drama ofncommunication in so-called ethnicnstereotypes: WASPs are close-mouthednformalists, casualties of their behavioralnmini-rules, the Jewish psychoanalystnis actually all warmth and understanding,neven if he does exude all the charmnand insight of a drill sergeant.nThere is still one character in thenmovie who deserves a few words—thenmother. Seen from her perspective, thenfilm reads as a postscript to the 1960’s.nAccording to that decade’s exegetes,ntheWASPish kids were justified in theirnrebellion against the rigidity and aridnessnof WASPish family culture. Thenbreakdown of intrafamily communicationnhad undermined the entire classnstructure, poisoned its ethos, turned itninto lethal rot. If this movie is a correctnillustration of how things really arenwithin the very inner core of thenWASPish family organism, I’d be annardent supporter of the counterculture.nBut, just as the theory of the 1960’snwas erected on a modish lie, fraud andnfallacy, so is the portrayal of the mothernin Ordinary People. The mother is anStagenThe Bard BowdlerizednA Midsummer Night’s Dream,; Writtennby William Shakespeare; Adaptednand directed by Stephen Willems;nThe Guthrie Theater.nThe Tyrone Guthrie Company, antheater group based in Minneapolis, isnthe pride of the Midwest—and justly so.nIt is credited with several outstandingnproductions, many exciting and innovativentreatments of both old and modernnrepertory, and it recently acquired anwell-known and inventive artistic directornfrom Europe, Liviu Ciulei, undernwhom it was supposed to reach for newnlaurels.nviUainess pushed into caricature and,nas such, not valid. Countless WASPishnparents have argued reasonably, overnthe last 20 years, against the centrifugalnmadness of their offspring, but to nonavail. Years later, they had the bitternsatisfaction of seeing their warningsnmaterialize in their children’s wretchedndestinies—in prisons, hospitals, drugnrehabilitation centers. In fact, it was notnthe parents but the kids who refused toncommunicate, seduced by sleazy socialntheories or infatuated with imbecilicnrock lyrics. And even if, in this movie,nthe kid is a sensitive (which does notnmean sensible), well-intentioned, wellwishingnyoung man who sings in thenchurch choir and elicits friendships andngood feelings, still he stubbornly refusesneven to consider his mother’s world ofnnotions, tenets, principles or even to negotiatena compromise based on comprehensionnof the other—not too complexnor refined, only different. And if thenmother’s principles at first seem shallow,npedestrian, perhaps even unprepossessing—theynnevertheless are principles,nthus a value, as valid and importantnas the most sensitive longing fornlove and acceptance. DnWe’re sorry to report that what wensaw as the commencernent of Mr. Ciulei’sntenure is far from acceptable; itnsimply makes little sense—and it couldnhardly pretend to enchant audiences. Itnis a so-called offbeat version of MidsummernNight’s Dream, created on a mythicalntropical island in a Hollywood artdeconreality—or rather surreality—ofnthe 1930’s. Thus, Titania is a sort of richnwidow on vacation, Oberon somethingnof a shady entrepreneur, Hermia, Helena,nDemetrius and Lysander are clippingsnfrom Erte and Vogtie of the time.nBottom is a janitor and Puck a quitenrobust deviate. The tradesmen aren’tnnnanything—they have been eUminated,nthereby flattening unbearably Shakespeare’snmultileveled conception of thenhuman universe.nThere’s nothing new about experimentsnwhich translate ancient art andndrama into modernity: Andre Antoinendid it before World War I, and Giraudouxnwrote, in the 1920’s, neoclassicalntragedies in modern dialogue—he letnElectra smoke Lucky Strikes and gavenus Agamemnon in a tuxedo. About thensame time, Erwin Piscator staged Hamletnas a psychoanalytical play, putnOphelia on the couch and offered thenPrince of Denmark a drug cure. All thatnmade sense: the Greek dramaturgists addressednthemselves to the timeless mannand could be rewritten at will; Hamletnis about schizophrenia, or at least it maynbe reasonably interpreted as such. ButnMidsummer Night’s Dream is a fairyntale, inseparable from its own magic;nto try to rationalize it makes no sensenat all; Shakespeare rarely indulged innhallucinations, and he had no connectionnto pharmaceutical^ induced visions.nMidsummer Night’s Dream is notn”about the difference between romanticnillusion and real love,” as the directornof the Guthrie production, Mr. StephennWillems, announces in the program; it’snabout the multitude of diverse consciousnesses.nIt is not about split personalities,nbut a split reality. It buildsna cobweb of wisdom and eternal truthnfrom fantasy, not ecstasy, from infatuations,nnot emotional simpering andnposes. Its only links with the real worldnare tradespeople who try to construct anuniverse—made of lions and walls—thatndoes not exist but that may exist: thentradesmen are relativists, which attestsnto their common sense and explainsntheir eventual harmony with the fairiesnand elves. Above all, Shakespeare’s playnis poetic, not sentimental. And it’s atnthis point that the work of the Bard wasnmost sorely abused by the Guthrienpeople.nThe acting was acceptable, and thenstage set is charming. (ES) DnJanttary/Febrttary 1981n