'Fifth of July' delivers

“The theater department is again presenting the groundbreaking and important work of an American playwright. Fifth of July opened last week in Guzzetta Hall’s Paul Sandefur Theatre as the opening half of the Lanford Wilson Festival. The play will continue through this weekend with 8 p.”

The theater department is again presenting the groundbreaking and important work of an American playwright.

Fifth of July opened last week in Guzzetta Hall’s Paul Sandefur Theatre as the opening half of the Lanford Wilson Festival. The play will continue through this weekend with 8 p.m. performances Thursday through Saturday while Wilson’s Hot L Baltimore is performed simultaneously in Kolbe Hall’s Paul A. Daum Theater.

The cast of Fifth of July faced a small audience Sunday afternoon, but those in attendance were treated to a first-class performance. Every actor – from Shirley (India Burton) the starry-eyed 13-year-old brimming with ambition to the wise old Aunt Sally (Nicci Faw) – delivered.

It was Wes (Robert Eric Round), however, who won the crowd over. Dressed in tie-dye, with big eyes peering out from under his shaggy mane, he stole nearly every scene.

In a loose, lighthearted moment, Wes recounted an Eskimo folk tale that Ken Talley (Anthony Dalton II) and John (Brad Cain) analyze, arguing that it is not, in fact, a folk tale. The interaction developed into the two mocking Wes’ mannerisms, speaking in a stoner drawl and flashing peace signs.

Ken is a man at odds with others but also with himself. As a disabled Vietnam veteran and an openly gay man, he is disillusioned about everything and everyone in his life.

In short order, however, Ken comes to terms with himself, those around him and his future. The lights go down on an optimistic note, with the Talley family looking to the future.

Wilson, a Pulitzer Prize winner, is widely considered a theater pioneer. In addition to the brilliance of his work, he is credited for giving a strong voice to gay men through the characters in his plays.

He and some friends started the Circle Repertory Company in New York City in 1969. One of those friends was Marshall Mason, the company’s original art director and the original director of both Fifth of July and Hot L Baltimore.

Mason is currently conducting a residency at the University of Akron. He will be on campus Tuesday, conducting a play-writing workshop. It will be open to the public.

As the guest of honor, Mason will be on hand at a 7 p.m. reception in the Guzzetta Atrium prior to Thursday’s performance of Fifth of July. He will discuss the play afterward.

Mason will also lead a discussion of Hot L Baltimore following Friday’s performance in the Daum Theatre.

Hot L Baltimore opens Thursday, with performances scheduled through the weekend, culminating with a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee. Three more performances are scheduled for Oct. 18-20 at 8 p.m.


” #1.1361704:2256903807.jpg:20071009LWilson.jpg:John Landis (Brad Cain), Jed Jenkins (Robert Grant III) and Kenneth Talley, Jr. (Anthony Dalton II) perform in Lanford Wilson’s ‘Fifth of July,’ which runs through Oct. 13.:COURTESY UNIVERSITY THEATRE”