Theater: 'Museum' Is A Spoof Of Modern Art

Posted: March 26, 1986

If you have a choice of seeing Museum, the current production of the Hedgerow Theater, or visiting the real thing, you'd probably be better off going to the museum.

There is certainly more substance, artfulness and - if you are at all inclined toward the visual arts - entertainment to be found in the works hanging on museum walls than in Tina Howe's obvious, frequently strained comedy spoofing modern art and museumgoers.

The play is set in the gallery of a museum on the last day of an exhibit titled "The Broken Silence." It consists of the work of three artists: a painter whose four exhibited paintings are all white; a sculptor who works with found objects such as rocks, feathers and bones; and another sculptor whose work consists of clothed cutout figures hanging on a clothesline. Viewers gush over these obviously absurd works and a tour guide analyzes them in long passages of art-speak gibberish.

However, many of the visitors to the exhibit could not care less about the art. They talk about other things and generally make trouble for the long- suffering guard through whose eyes the audience sees the gallery. The guard is forever telling photographers to get permission to take pictures, ordering visitors to shut off their guided-tour tape recorders and catching people stealing the clothespins from the basket at the clothesline exhibit.

There are 37 characters and 16 performers in the play, which lasts little more than an hour. Needless to say, it is quickly paced, and director June Prager does a good job of moving characters on and off stage and blending one scene into another.

As one might expect with so many semiprofessional actors playing so many varied roles, some of Howe's stock characters are well done and some are not. If you don't like the way one character is presented, another one will be right along.

Museum is being presented through April 19 at Theater Widener on the campus of Widener University, Route 320 and 16th Street near Chester.

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