Those who complain that the Kennedy Center ignores avant-grade and experimental theater, where are you?
The second of the four current "Albee Directs Albee" programs last night opened in the new Terace Theater. To put it expansively, maybe one-fifth of the 500 seats were occupied.
"Counting the Ways" and "Listening," two abstract, abstruse works, were introduced two years ago at Hartford Stage with Angela Lansbury, William Prince and Maureen Anderman in the five roles. With the playwright as director and dividing the five parts differently for Patricia Kilgarriff, Wyman Pendleton, Eileen Burns and Catherine Bruno, one has to question whether the Center is really guilty as charged.
Probably it is more to the point to note that what is avant-garde or experimental one year is fini two years later.
Obviously suggested by the marital poems of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, "Counting the Ways" is relatively frivolous for Albee.
"I kiss your lips means I kiss your hips?" Pendleton eats red rose. Blackout. Next scene Kilgarriff notices bud has vanished. She tries to replace remaining rose petals. Blackout. Man returns with white rose. Both players step out of character to reveal facts of their personal lives.
Kilgarriff's Washington visitors include ex-husband, 9-year-old child and mother. Pendleton went to Moses Brown Academy, Rhode Island, and appears on "Edge of Night." Is it meaningful that the avant-garde goes commercial?
"Listening" suggests, I suppose, that we don't really listen to what others say. Man, Woman and Girl gather at a dried-up fountain. They ring variations on such remarks as "Why did you make me cry," and "I am the only one." Grand Guignol ending: Girl pulls bleeding hand out of fountain.
Tonight's program: "The American Dream" and "The Zoo Story."