Three likable plays open, in New York; Major Barbara Comedy By George Bernard shaw. Directed by Stephen Porter.
Mary Tyler Moore on Broadway Mary Tyler Moore in "Whose Life Is It Anyway" has undergone more than a sea change to reopen on Broadway. A hospital "somewhere in England" has become a hospital "somewhere in America." Ken Harrison, the immobilized accident victim played so brilliantly by Tom Conti, has become Claire Harrison, played with her own kind of verve and comic awareness by Mary Tyler Moore. The change has meant no loss for Brian Clark's thoughtful and moving comedy about a patient resolutely determined to choose death rather than continue existing as "an object of scientific virtuosity." (The doctors say that she cannot survive without the support of their machines).
Except for some jarring sexual frankness in the early scenes, Mr. Clark's revised script remains an honestly compassionate study of human courage and determination in the face of a physically devastating predicament.
In her Broadway debut, Miss Moore meets the exceptional demands of the role with a performance of wit, gallantry, warmth, and indignant purpose. Two stalwarts from the earlier production -- Beverly May as the head nurse and James Higgins as the judge who presides over the hospital-room hearing -- have made the transition from England to America. Other principal roles are played by James Naughton as Christine's physician, Josef Sommer as the doctor in charge, Susan Kellerman as the lawyer who argues for the patient, Suzanna Hay as a student nurse, and Northern J. Calloway as a cheerfully uninhibited orderly.
When problems of replacing Mr. Conti decided the producers on the bold step of revising the play to star Miss Moore, the inevitable question arose: Would it work? On the basis of the evidence at the Royale Theater, it works.