Posted inArts & Culture

Tintypes

This 1980 pastiche of period vaudeville routines, popular songs, and excerpts from speeches provides an entertaining history lesson on America between the Civil War and the Roaring 20s. Five characters represent the era’s archetypes: three are based on historical figures Teddy Roosevelt, socialist Emma Goldman, and Ziegfeld Follies star Anna Held while two are more […]

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Thou Shalt Not

Director-choreographer Kevin Bellie and his cast throw all their considerable heart, talent, and energy into this production of a sluggish, messy musical. And sometimes they do manage, for a few moments at least, to give it some validity. But the center cannot hold in this 2001 adaptation of Emile Zola’s novel of lust and murder, […]

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Howl’s Moving Castle

Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki follows up his international hit Spirited Away with this adaptation of a British novel by Diana Wynne Jones; I haven’t read the book, but the movie’s dreamlike spaces and characters are sometimes worthy of Lewis Carroll. One thing that makes this highly cinematic is the radical fluidity of both age and […]

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A Hatful of Rain

Maybe it was a case of opening-night jitters. Maybe the show needed a few more rehearsals, as recurrent flubbed lines seemed to indicate. Whatever, Frank Merle’s intelligent, well-paced staging of Michael Gazzo’s seminal 1955 drama–the first postwar Broadway play to deal with drug addiction–never achieved the tragic scope it should have. It wasn’t for lack […]

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.Duck

Writer-director Roger Bectel, who adapted Henrik Ibsen’s The Wild Duck for the new Big Picture Group, allows the actors to be overwhelmed by Andrew Schneider’s intriguing layered video projections. That’s too bad, because Big Picture has an interesting vision. Ibsen’s play is about the tension between the truthfulness necessary in a genuine relationship and the […]

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Jump Rhythm Jazz Project

Billy Siegenfeld’s new pomo musical-theater work about war may sound odd, and it is. But it definitely meets his goal for Jump Rhythm Jazz Project’s 15th season: to test the limits of jazz dance, showing that it’s not just presentational and sexual but can communicate a whole range of emotions. In The News From Poems […]

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Sleater-Kinney

Most rock bands lose their rawness as they become more accomplished as players, and sometimes that’s a good thing: Sleater-Kinney’s recent, more carefully crafted albums are better on the whole than their early ones. But on their latest, The Woods (Sub Pop), they’ve gotten skilled enough to loosen their grip on the reins, and they […]

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Umberto Eco

Italian novelist, critic, and semiotician Umberto Eco swept into the American consciousness in 1983, when a translation of his medieval murder mystery The Name of the Rose became a surprise best seller. I wonder if half the people who bought that challenging book ever finished it. Most probably jumped off the Eco bandwagon rather than […]

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The Enchanting Forest

A trip to the Amazon inspired Gisela Insuaste’s room-size installation, Anticipacion, at the Three Arts Club: “In the forest stillness it always seems something’s about to happen, whether it’s a two-inch ant crawling or a monkey jumping from one tree to the other.” She was also influenced by walks in the woods during a residency […]

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Mad Shak Dance Company

Molly Shanahan’s Eye Cycle: Arithmetic of Shadows–part of a project that began in 2003 with Eye Cycle–is gentle, honorable, and brainy. Josh Weckesser’s fluid lighting, Shanahan’s video projections, Kevin O’Donnell’s music, and soft, repetitive dancing by Shanahan and Kristina Fluty all contribute to a dreamy sense of meditation. Missing, however, are development and communication–I could […]

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The Gardens of Frau Hess

Milton Frederick Marcus’s 1998 play is an egregious example of the American tendency to see every event in terms of personal melodrama: he uses the Holocaust only as grisly backdrop to a fictional affair between the wife of Hitler’s deputy fuhrer and her gardener, a Jewish botanist taken from a concentration camp. (You know how […]