Excerpt from WIT AND SERIOUSNESS
(New York Times Theater Review, May 29,1981)
By Mel Gussow
Shel Silverstein has taken the second oldest story in the world, "The Lady or the Tiger", and turned it
into a cynical satire of our acquisitive, amoral society. This play by the noted cartoonist and children's
author is the highlight of the first round of "Marathon 1981", the Ensemble Studio Theater's annual
festival of one-act plays. "The Lady or the Tiger" gives center stage to Richard Dreyfuss, offering a
malicious comic portrait of an irredeemably ambitious television producer who will do, say, or
promise anything if it will raise his ratings.
It is Mr. Silverstein's notion to recreate "The Lady or the Tiger" as the ultimate television game show.
Lamar Darfield, portrayed pipsqueak-style by Raynor Scheine, has been conscripted to play the
Game before an audience of 150,000 "live people," with millions more watching on television.
Behind one door in a stadium is the girl of his high school dreams, pert Deborah Reagan, dressed like
an angel and tooting "Greensleeves" on a flute. Behind the other door is a snarling, enraged tiger.
Money has persuaded Miss Reagan to divorce her husband and be a door prize. Mr Scheine is of
course acting out of passion, but when faced with the tiger possibility, he wonders, "How much do I
really love this woman?"
With unabated energy and comic zeal, Mr. Dreyfuss orchestrates the travesty, swearing on his
grandmother's memory that miss Reagan and Mr. Scheine must fulfill their contractual obligations. In
other words, faced with suddenly reluctant participants, he makes wild threats. Callowly charismatic,
the producer is a throwback to Mr. Dreyfuss's "Duddy Kravitz", a man who can combine greed with
Author and actor have a few clever surprises including one sight gag that is a knockout. Art Wolff has
wisely staged the comedy as a cliffhanger, making the countdown a palpable presence. There is
helpful support from Howard Lee Sherman as a tiger tamer and Jack Gilpin as a self-serving
"The Lady or the Tiger" ends the evening with a laugh.
Eliot Cushman--Richard Dreyfuss
Tucker Pim--Howard Lee Sherman
Florence Haskins--Deborah Reagan
Lamar Darfield--Raynor Scheine
Voice of Carol--Wende Dasteel
Voice of Sid and Tony--Donald F. Berman
Voice of Salsky--Howard Lee Sherman
Voice of Eddie--Russ Kupfrain