Gerome Ragni Clive Barnes - Essay

Clive Barnes

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[This] godson of "Hair" never quite makes it. ["Dude"'s] pretensions are always clearer than its achievements, yet even those pretensions are not without a certain naiveté that might endear the show to some…. [Those] wonderful folks who gave us "Hair," here give us a brave try.

[Here] the lack of discipline to that imagination, a freedom that proved so charming in "Hair," chains the musical down instead of liberating it. In "Hair" the very aimlessness of the piece, its random poetry and shafts of insight could afford the luxury of a nonstructure because it was describing a life style that deliberately embraced nonstructured patterns as its aim. "Dude," on the other hand, seems to be an allegory about "that great theater in the sky," and an allegory that is not clear, even on its primary level, is in no end of trouble.

The idea of "Dude," or what I can make out of it, is both complex and simplistic. It is, I presume, an attempt to demonstrate once more that all the world's a stage and the actors Jesus-people at their symbolic heart. It is about the loss of innocence.

Clive Barnes, "'Dude'," in The New York Times (© 1972 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), October 10, 1972 (and reprinted in The New York Times Theatre Reviews, The New York Times Company, 1973, p. 306).