Reprinted from yesterday's late edition.
Wednesday's American College Theater Festival performance in the Eisenhower illuminated the series' subliminal values. Mark Medoff's provocative melodrama, "When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder," was expertly staged and revealed two very fine performances repeated yesterday afternoon and evening.
Missoula, Mont., can hardly be called a hotbed of theatrical activity, but the University of Montana School of Fine Arts and its allied Montana Repertory Theater have joined forces with impressive results. One doubts that the Rocky Mountain region would have had such assured professional ability a decade ago, or, perhaps, even the interest to support a drama/dance staff of 11 and 120 arts majors. This, in microcosm, is what is happening across America.
Medoff's parable about concealed violence has become increasingly valid since its Off-Broadway Obie win of a few years ago. In a New Mexican roadside cafe a deceptively affavle traveler erupts to inflict senseless cruelty on a half-dozen people. From the quiet start, tensions splash.
In his staging James D. Kriley recognizes the play's swiftly shifting rhythms without missing its broader implications and has two exceptionally fine performers heading his cast eight.
As the officiuosly friendly Teddy, Joseph S. Arnold, lean and lanky, shifts the moods of guileful perceptions with expert command. As a quietly terrigied waitress, Mary K. Sigvardt is beautifully arresting. The ensemble catches the rhythmic tensions, and Bill Raoul's set is first class.