LOS ANGELES -- Cautious cheers for the Geffen Playhouse's first two years were sounded by gadfly theatre critic Charles Marowitz in a Jan. 2 essay in the Jewish Journal.
Marowitz, who formerly ran the Open Space Theatre in London and was an associate director at the Los Angeles Theatre Center, is known locally as a controversial and outspoken writer.
A column he wrote several years ago debunking Gordon Davidson and the Mark Taper Forum resulted in his being dropped permanently from the theatre's press list.
Marowitz hailed the Geffen's artistic director, Gil Cates, for having maintained a high average over the past two years. Mabou Mines' Peter and Wendy, Jon Marans' Old Wicked Songs, Robert Brustein's Shlemiel The First and Adrian Hall's production of Quills won Marowitz's praise, even as he dismissed Terrence McNally's Love! Valor! Compassion! as "an aberration which gruellingly excavated the gay sensibility and tried to suggest it was, in some groundbreaking way, different from the heterosexual turmoils which it actually mirrored."
Los Angeles was a city "dominated (and, in the minds of many, oppressed) by the genial specter of . . . Davidson who runs the . . . Taper and Ahmanson and threatens, at any moment, to add a Westside venue," said Marowitz. The columnist welcomed the advent of the Geffen, which he likened to "Daniel entering the lion's den." He also criticized Cates for "too often playing the Davidson game of trying to haul high-visibility products from other venues onto local stages. . . Is this what a full-blooded theatre company should be doing -- playing the I-Can-Snatch-It-Over-Faster-Than-You game?"
-- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent