Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
James Earl Jones "as Paul Robeson" opened Monday night at the National Theater, and the reviews will not be limited to those by theater critics.
At the end of the opening-night performance, it was an appreciative audience that applauded the Jones performance and followed to the District Building's Council Chambers for a reception for the cast - in this case Jones and his accompanist.
But earlier, two groups handed out leaflets to arriving playgoers protesting that the play misses the "true dimensions of Paul Robeson as an artist and a revolutionary."
After the performance, Jones came to the reception encased in the red-lined black cape that he wears on the stage in his Robeson role. He said he found the Washington audience's reaction "exciting" but he would have to wait beyond an opening-night benefit performance to get the feel of local audiences.
The reception in the Council Chambers was given by the Black Student Fund, which sold 841 tickets to the opening-night performance for $50 and $25. The fund helps integration of private schools with scholarship money and counseling, both for the schools and families.
City Councilman Marion Barry said he thought that Jones gave a splendid performance but "I'm not so sure this play is as deep and serious as it should be."
"It is difficult to separate the play. Jones, and Robeson," said Army Secretary Clifford Alexander."Jones was splendid. Robeson was splendid, and the play was awfully good but . . ."
"One but," Alexander explained, "is that the play cannot portray Robeson in his full dimensions as a man in the stage portrait."