Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Hans Conried Superb in Carroll Play

Cleveland Press January 10, 1966

Whatever the reasons for taking a first-rate show by a first-rate company such as this one on a tour that consists of one night stands on college campuses, one of them surely must be the audiences.

It was a wonderfully responsive group yesterday that must have gladdened the heart of every actor on stage. It was a marvelously varied group, ranging more widely in age and presumably in background than you would ever find in an evening at the Hanna where such a show normally would run.

Ira Wallach's modern comedy is a strange but nevertheless welcome addition to a university series that is generally marked by such playwrights as Shakespeare, Euripides, Brecht and Shaw.

But while Wallach's name might not strike us with the same degree of awe, his wonderful comedy -- for all of its solid laughs -- is a biting commentary on intellectual integrity.

THE PLAY is about a great scientist (Hans Conried), a true egghead who is in such financial straits that he must take a job with a large corporation.

The good professor relaxes by playing the cello. He and his family detest television and popular magazines and his wife is a scholar who has written several books.

None of this fits the pattern of conformity demanded by big business. Squares, not individuals, are wanted and the professor finds himself demeaning himself as he tries to give the answers he thinks the corporate interrogator wants.

The play cynically takes apart the corporate thinking that would make every man a carbon copy of his colleagues. It also comments on the intellectual who might find himself cringing and compromising before this corporate god.

CONRIED PLAYS his part with relish. He embellishes his lines with the gestures, facial expressions and lifted eyebrow that adds extra meaning as well as extra Iaughs to a part. He is superb.

Ruth McDevitt Is wonderful as an eccentric, sometimes kleptomaniac neighbor and Florida Friebus is perfect as the professor's intellectual wife.

Donald Buka as the corporation interviewer is no stock villain as he gives dimension to an unsympathetic role.

It is unfortunate that the play has had such a brief run here. The Play House might well consider presenting it. "Absence of a Cello" is a perfect example of popular fare with more than a little meaning underlying the humor.