Monthly Archives: September 2010

Reality Theater: The Enemy is Everywhere


Being a drama in one act.

SETTING: The press tent of a large outdoor pop music festival in the suburbs. Not far from here. Not long from now.


RICHARDS, a music critic for a newspaper, about thirty

A WOMAN, perhaps thirty-five

A BALD MAN, maybe forty

MALITZ, Richards’s malnourished colleague, also about thirty

KLIMEK, a writer for a website, slightly older than thirty Continue reading

Look Upon My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair!

Actually, don’t despair. Just go read if you’re so inclined. Like many of the journo-types I know in DC, I spent Saturday at Merriweather Post Pavilion for Virgin Festival V, or Virgin Mobile Festival III, or Virgin Mobile Free Festival II. My breathless Twitter feed is here; I also penned a hasty roundup for DCist, which offers you another angle on things in addition to those written by friends and professional acquaintances of mine.

Over at former DCist music editor Amanda Mattos’s newish music site Pinna Storm, I introduce Exquisite Chord, a fun and educational new spin on an old smarty-pants game that you, too, can play.

I was just saying to TBD’s Ally Schweitzer aboard the FreeFest ferris wheel how most of the “ideas” I think I have are really just puns. Case in point!

Oh, I also wrote this nerdy thing for the City Paper’s Arts Desk blog about Washington Shakespeare Company’s Shakespeare-in-Klington night, which I did not attend on account of if being scheduled directly opposite LCD SOUNDSYSTEM, y’all. I like this band this much.

Martyr System: The Saint Plays, reviewed

Betsy Rosen & Allyson Harkey

Last weekend was theaterrific in my life. My esteemed Washington City Paper colleague Trey Graham was not wrong when he set the stage for our discussion of Tricycle Theare’s Afghanistan: The Great Game with the observation that a completely different show, Factory 449’s The Saint Plays “broke [my] brain a little.” But it was fun trying to puzzle it all out. And by “fun,” I mean it was work. I also wrote about GALA’s El caballero de Olmedo, despite my very limited understanding of Spanish. Here’s the review.

Circle Mirror Transformation: Muse’s Class Act

Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation is the first show to open at The Studio Theatre since Joy Zinoman, the force of nature who founded the institution in the 1970s and served as its artistic director until just weeks ago, passed the torch to David Muse. Intentional or not, the selection of this generous, sharply observed comedy to begin the Muse era feels like a tribute to Zinoman, who along with charting the theatre’s creative course was also chief instructor in its conservatory. (She plans to continue teaching.)

Circle Mirror Transformation, which Muse directed, takes place in an acting class similar to the entry-level one Studio offers. I doubt Studio would allow a teacher to have his or her spouse as a student, as in Baker’s fictional class. But given the play’s small-town rec-center setting, the scenario seems plausible even though it’s a glaring violation of the Hippocratic — I mean, the attorney-client — well, it just seems like the kind of thing that could cause problems, is all. And guess what?
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Housekeeping: Theater Stuff

So that Bergmanesque shot of Sara Barker and Heather Haney is a publicity image from Washington Shakespeare Company‘s upcoming, youth-enizied, modernized take on Mary Stuart Friedrich Schiller’s 200-year-old play about a 500-year-old power struggle between Queen Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots. How could this possibly retain any latter-day relevance? Hey, read my piece about it in the City Paper’s Fall Arts Guide, available now in Washington’s better gyms, record stores, coffee shops and on your iPhones. ALSO IN THAT EXCITING ISSUE: I preview Lean & Hungry‘s Halloween-night radio production of MacBeth, and get the name of their composer and sound designer wrong exactly the same number of times I get it right: once. My apologies to Mr. Gregg Martin.

In last week’s CP, I reviewed Theatre J‘s production of Willy Holtzman‘s good-play-with-terrible-title, Something You Did. (What’s in a name? Nothing, in this case.) Some of the dialogue therein is also pretty terrible. But I stand by the “good play” part.

Loving Spit: Broken Social Scene at the Warner Theatre

The membership of Toronto indie-rock impressionists Broken Social Scene fluctuates between as few as a half-dozen and as many as three times that, which maybe has something to do with how this band has always — well, since 1999 — made music that feels intimate and epic at the same time.

Their generous 130-minute show at the Warner Theater last night boasted a lineup of eight (with Lisa Lobsinger performing the parts sung on record by BSS alums Leslie Feist, Emily Haines, and Amy Millan) performing crystalline lullabies, triumphant fist pumpers, and a few of the discursive, hazy instrumentals that used to get a lot more time on the collective’s albums than they do now. The one that came out at the beginning of summer (after leaking weeks earlier) Forgiveness Rock Record, is more focused and song-oriented than its forebears. It contributed the bulk of last night’s set, but the show still felt thrillingly rife with possibility, even if it was, as frontman and co-founder Kevin Drew repeatedly observed, a Monday night. (That still matters when you’re a full time rock semi-star? Depressing. A more likely potential inhibitor was that Of Montreal and Janelle Monae were kicking off a tour a couple miles north at the 9:30 Club.) Continue reading

I interviewed Philip Glass! And wrote a bunch of other stuff.

A young Chuck Close with one of his many portraits of Philip Glass, from his 1969 photo of the composer.

Man, it is just crazytown that I’m blogging semi-prolifically over at the Washington City Paper’s Arts Desk and forgetting to update my own Internet sock drawer with linkage. Here’s my interview in two parts with the wildly versatile and adventurous composer Philip Glass. I still haven’t transcribed the part where we talk about his film-score work, but I promise I’ll get to it. Movies are always relevant.

Which reminds me: I also blogged about a very funny and inventive critical dissection of Star Trek, the youthful, sexy 2009 version. Always relevant, like I said.

I don’t think this guy has a safe word: Trey Songz’s Passion, Pain & Pleasure Tour

The abz of Songz

In the post-R. Kelly R&B carnality arms race (or is it an abs race?), 25-year-old Peterburg, Va. native Trey Songz is in little danger of being outgunned. He may one day use his limber tenor to map the terrain of other subjects and emotions, but four albums into a career on which he’s cited Kelly as the prime influence, Songz is, to hear him tell it, a man whose devotion to sex is so pure, so singular, so encompassing, “monastic” is the only word.

Last night at a sold-out DAR Constitution Hall, he prayed a high holy Mass.

The 100-minute session opened with “I Invented Sex” and peaked with “The Neighbors Know My Name.” (Not because they accidentally got some of his mail.) In between, Songz issued a more humble declaration of fealty with no, ha, fooled you. He did snap a photo of the audience, telling us, “There is no me without y’all.” Save for some conspicuous pre-recorded backing vocals, his tour with long-lived R&B star Monica was absent big-venue production gimmicks: the gig succeeded entirely on its star’s vocal power, energy and charisma, all boundless, though you wonder whether he has any other hobbies. Truth, his main addiction might be work: His breakthrough album, “Ready,” is barely a year old, but the follow-up, Passion, Pain & Pleasure drops next week.
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