Friends, Coens, Countrymen: All Hail Hail, Caesar!

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No one in the world can possibly appreciate the way the narrator of the new Coen Brothers picture, Sir Michael Gambon — the man who once declined the role of James Bond because, quoth he, “I’ve got tits like a woman” — says “in westerly Malibu” as much as I do. But just about everyone seems to like the movie. I do, too. My NPR review is here.

2 Midsummer 2 Dreamz

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I spent a midwinter day and evening taking in two, two, two big productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, from WSC Avant Bard and the Folger Theatre. I reviewed the experience for this week’s unusually me-heavy Washington City Paper.

Aniello, I Love You, Won’t You Tell Me Your Name?

Vaughn Irving, Doug Wilder, Farrell Parker, and Suzanne Edgar in "You, or Whatever I Can Get." 2015 Aniello Award winner Flying V will remount the show starting next week. (Paul Gillis)

Vaughn Irving, Doug Wilder, Farrell Parker, and Suzanne Edgar perform their musical “You, or Whatever I Can Get” in the 2014 Capital Fringe Festival. 2015 Aniello Award winner Flying V will remount the show starting next week. (Paul Gillis)

After covering theater in DC on a regular basis for seven or eight years, it’s clear to me that what I like and what Helen Hayes Awards judges like sometimes overlap but more often do not. But I very much appreciate that the Haysies created a new award eight years ago in the name of longtime DC theatre patron John Laurentzen Aniello Jr. to recognize outstanding start-up theatre companies, because making good art is difficult, difficult, lemon difficult and keeping a theatre company afloat ain’t so easy, either. Continue reading

A Horse of a Different Color: Between Riverside and Crazy and Equus, reviewed.

Frankie R. Faison, Emily K. Townley, and David Bishins in %22Between Riverside and Crazy%22 (Allie Dearie)

Ryan Tumulty and Ross Destiche in "Equus."

Among my other inspired headline ideas was the immortal “Race, Horse.” Washington City Paper editor-in-chief Steve Cavendish came up with the winning entry: “Crime Doesn’t Neigh.” Bravo, Steve. Herewith, my reviews of Studio’s Between Riverside and Crazy, the 2015 Pulitzer winner from Stephen Adly Guirgis, and Constellation’s new production of Peter Shaffer’s Equus.

 

Heal Thyself: The Critic and The Real Inspector Hound, reviewed.

"The Critic." Scott Suchman/Shakespeare Theatre

I couldn’t make the Monday-night press premiere of Shakespeare Theatre Company’s twofer of Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The Critic and Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound last week, as I am teaching the Sweet Science on Monday nights this season. But I caught up with the show later in the week and my Washington City Paper review went up this afternoon. Stoppard’s play, especially, makes the pain of hackery burn more than usual.

Pop Culture Happy Hour No. 278: The Hateful Eight and the Theatrical Filmgoing Experience

Jennifer Jason Leigh in "The Hateful Eight." (The Weinstein Co.)

It’s a split verdict from the Pop Culture Happy Hour panel this week on the merits of Quentin Tarantino’s eighth and—on account of having been shot in 65mm Super Panavision, for a 2.76:1 aspect ratio when projected in 70mm—widest feature, The Hateful Eight. I don’t think I was at my sharpest trying to defend the picture. All I can tell is you that I saw its refusal to give us any character to empathize with fully as a strength, not a weakness, and reflective of a deliberate decision by Tarantino. Although more modest in scale and contained in its setting, this is a more complicated film than the two historical fantasias that preceded it, 2009’s Inglorious Basterds and 2012’s Django Unchained. I enjoy and admire all of these films, but it’s very clear in the latter two who is supposed to enjoy the audience’s support. Not so in The Hateful Eight. That discomfiture ain’t for everyone. “The viewership for this one narrows to the self-selected,” wrote my pal Scott Tobias in his NPR review three weeks ago.

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When You’re a Jet Something Something: West Side Story, reviewed.

west-side-story2-1780x1254I brought my folks to Signature Theatre’s reverent, rapturous production of the Broadway classic West Side Story the week before Christmas, but due to vagaries related to two issues falling on holidays between then and now, my Washington City Paper review is only now surfacing. I filed on time, dammit. At least I think I did. Who can remember anything from before Christmas now? Holiday-time usually brings a conventional but deeply satisfying revival of a proven crowd favorite, and this winter, West Side Story is the one to beat.

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