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LONDON CRITICS CHEW ON ‘MELON’

Times Theater Critic

After not doing that well in London, but doing very well in Los Angeles, Simon Gray’s “The Common Pursuit” was the surprise hit of the Off-Broadway season.

That may explain why the Shubert Organization has money in Gray’s new play, “Melon,” for which the London critics have not turned handsprings.

This has Alan Bates--who starred in Gray’s “Butley"--as a sophisticated London publisher who absolutely falls to pieces when he finds his wife is being unfaithful.

“Mr. Gray keeps on writing the same leading character,” yawned Charles Osborne in the Daily Telegraph. “His ironic tone of voice prevents us fully sharing the hero’s plight,” sighed Michael Billington in the Guardian.

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Bates got rapped as well. “This must be the most mannered performance at present on the London stage,” wrote Michael Ratcliffe in the Observer.

Oh, dear. Maybe Gray will rewrite for America.

Nineteen eighty-eight is the centennial of Eugene O’Neill’s birth, and the Eugene O’Neill Society is sponsoring a contest for a play about him. The winner gets a staged reading at New York’s Circle in the Square Theatre. Deadline is May 2. Send four copies of the script to Frederick C. Wilkins, the Eugene O’Neill Newsletter, Suffolk University, Boston, Mass. 02114.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: From David Nathan’s review of “Melon” in the London Jewish Chronicle: “The trouble with plays about mad people is that any suggestion that they do something sensible . . . is met with the response that you cannot expect them to do that, as they are mad.”


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