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`Strange Interlude' as three-part TV drama. `American Playhouse' launches its 7th season

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Strange Interlude PBS, Monday-Wednesday, 9-10:30 p.m. Stars: Glenda Jackson, Rosemary Harris, Ken Howard, David Dukes, Edward Petherbridge, Kenneth Brannagh. Adapted for television from the Eugene O'Neill play by Robert Enders. Producer: Philip Barry. Director: Herbert Wise. Executive producer of American Playhouse: Lindsay Law. The seventh season of ``American Playhouse'' opens boldly with a three-part, 4-hour production of a seldom-seen Eugene O'Neill Pulitzer-winning classic, ``Strange Interlude.''

It is seldom seen because it is difficult to produce, direct, act - and, I fear, to sit through.

``Interlude'' spans a period of 25 years in the life of Nina, from her early regrets about never consummating her love affair with a pilot killed in the World War, through marriage, love affairs, children, a whole series of complex relationships, and finally her embittered widowhood.

If one looks for contemporary relevance in the plot, it might be found in the search of today's women for self-fulfillment. But most viewers will see greater parallels between this drama and the convoluted plots of ``Dallas,'' ``Dynasty,'' and ``Knots Landing.''

In other plays O'Neill offers not only the tortured emotional lives of his main characters but also universal themes such as the tragedy of alcoholism and drug addiction. In ``Strange Interlude,'' the underlying theme is the destructiveness of hereditary insanity - a condition to take at face value today and an overly simplistic motivation for much of the action.


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