Rochelle Owens's play "Futz" is surprising enough a work to find yourself reviewing once, let alone twice. And yet this domestic idyl of the pleasures and dangers of nonconformity in a conforming society has not only run off Broadway for a surprising length of time - after all, how many pig lovers are there? - But it has now had a complete change of cast. The La Mama Troupe has left for other fields, and this Tom O'Horgan staging finds itself with, as it were, an alien cast.
It is a curious and wryly compassionate piece. Miss Owens writes with a kind of gospel-thumping vigor. Her words bounce out with the accuracy of an old-time sheriff hitting his old-time spittoon. The theme itself, of a man enamored of his pig, is satiric fantasy, but the moral purpose of people being allowed to do their own thing in all circumstances is not bad. And best of all, the play Miss Owens has developed is in its strange, rumbustious way, fun.
This is not, by any means, an avant-garde play - rather it is a conventional play about an unconventional subject. What perhaps gives it an air of the newly way-in way-out is Tom O'Horgan's energetic staging, which throws itself around the stage like an intoxicated octopus.
When Mr. O'Horgan first stages "Futz" this was for the La Mama troupe, actors with a certain style of movement, a certain style of speaking (or nonspeaking) and a very special togetherness. Now with La Mama returned to mama, "Futz" and Mr. O'Horgan are on their own.
Seen at the Actor's Playhouse the other Saturday I thought both were standing up moderately well. As was pointed out to me you can hear what the new cast is saying better than the old. However I must in turn point out - and with no possible disrespect to Miss Owens who has not written what might be called a "book" play - this is not necessarily an advantage.
For all this the new cast mixed in well. I miss greatly John Bakos and Feth Allen, and I would not say "Futz" is as much worth seeing now as it was when the dew was fresh on its particularly steamy meadow. Yet it is still definitely worth a visit.
I liked Timothy Taylor, the new Futz, but the whole cast slouch and slump around in a pleasantly authentic manner. It is a strange play, but you will never be able to talk authoritatively about the new American theater without having seen it. By the way, you won't be shocked by "Futz"
I noticed that they are now handing out "Futz for President" badges at the theater. It is an attractive possibility, but for myself I think I'll still go along with Snoopy. After all, how would Futz do with the Red Baron?
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