Monthly Archives: November 2010

Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself: Synetic’s The Master and Margarita, reviewed

Photo: Graeme Shaw / courtesy Synetic


Haven’t seen that new Harry Pottery movie yet, but I wrote about this for the City Paper.

The Battle It Hadn’t Occurred to You That You Wanted to See!

Great Scott! Book critic, comics blogger, and friend-for-life Glen Weldon — the Green Lantern to my Green Arrow — invited me to participate in an exegesis of SUPERMAN VS. MUHAMMAD ALI, an essential cultural artifact of the 1970s. I’ve had a framed copy of the cover hanging in my apartment for years, in my bathroom in point of fact. But as with so many of the classics, I never actually read it until assigned to do so.

Anyway: Read all about it on your National Public Radio!

Christopher “Chris” Klimek on Kristoffer Kristian “Kris” Kristofferson

Photo: Marina Chavez

So Saturday, me and my pal @HeatherMG went to see the guy who wrote “Me and Bobby McGee.” This short review is kinda buried in today’s Paper of Record, and split over two pages web-wise, so I’m posting it here to make things easier. For all of us.

Kris Kristofferson is no hurry, but he doesn’t like to waste time. At the Music Center at Strathmore last night, he marched onstage in his customary black-shirt-black-jeans-black-boots regalia at exactly the announced go-time of 8 p.m., launching with little fanfare into a generous 30-song solo acoustic revue of his bone-deep body of work. A hardy 74, the Rhodes Scholar and former Army helicopter pilot moved lightly from one coiled, economical story-song to the next, punctuating each tune with an abrupt “Thank you!” or better still, “True story!” rather than allow the last note to hang in the air — as they can, within the Music Center’s sound-abetting walls. His tectonic growl would be frightening if it didn’t let it break so freely into laughter, or if you couldn’t see that beatific smile. Continue reading

Oklahoma! (sic), Okay?

Nicholas Rodriguez as Curly & Eleasha Gamble as Laurey in Oklahoma!

The great and kind Bob Mondello and I had a chat about the newer, browner Oklahoma! that Arena Stage is using to open their impressive new digs to great acclaim and success. And then Bob, at the urging of a reader who really didn’t know what she was setting herself up for, told a joke, which he should never, ever do. At least, not this one.

Radio Killed the Cinema Star: Scena’s The War of the Worlds

Orson Welles’s hour-long radio play The War of the Worlds was the greatest Halloween prank of the 20th century. Twelve million people tuned in for the original broadcast on Oct. 30, 1938 — about the same number as watch Glee now, but the population of the U.S. was only 40 percent of its current size back then. In a 1947 Princeton University survey, roughly one in 12 respondents said that upon first hearing Welles’s radio verite report of hostile Martians landing at Grover’s Mill, NJ, they had indeed believed it to be real news coverage of a frightening calamity. Continue reading

Float like that one thing; sting like another thing: A conversation with Boxing Gym director Frederick Wiseman

I teach a boxing class on Wednesday evenings. It’s at a general-interest gym, not a boxing gym, so we’re not equipped or insured for sparring, and we don’t have a speed bag or a double-ended bag, though I’m working on that. We drill with heavy bags and focus mitts with lots of calisthenics stirred in, and people looking for an intense and unique workout really seem to like it. Most folks who try the class once come back.

Anyway, I interviewed Frederick Wiseman, director of the new documentary Boxing Gym and more than three dozen others, for the Washington City Paper. You can read that here.

It’s Not Easy, Bein’ Queen: Washington Shakespeare Company’s Richard III and Mary Stuart, review’d

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Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, especially if the head connived and murdered its way into it. And if that head belongs to a woman? That’s something else entirely.

To celebrate the opening of its svelte new black box in Rosslyn’s Artisphere complex—a major upgrade from its old digs at the Clark Street Playhouse—the 20-year-old Washington Shakespeare Company has doubled down on British history, preparing concurrent stagings of Richard III and Mary Stuart, Friederich Schiller’s 19th century tale of 16th century royal intrigue.

It’s a truly, er, dynamic duo, in the sense that the plays talk to one another: In Richard, inspired by historical events a hundred years before Shakespeare’s prominence, we have his most outsized malefactor. In Mary Stuart, which looks back on Elizabethan tymes from a vantage point of two centuries (four, if we’re talking about the 2005 Peter Oswald translation used here), we see how it was in Shakespeare’s interest to flex even more artistic license than usual immortalizing Richard as a “hellhound that does hunt us all to death.”

The Bard of Avon was a subject of Queen Elizabeth I, whose legitimacy was contested. It was flattery to the playwright’s sovereign that fueled this depiction of Richard as a beast whose deformity reflected interior corruption, and whose prodigious devilry ultimately served God’s plan to drag England, however bloodily, into a new Golden Age of benign Tudor rule. It would be ungrateful to question the royal credentials of whoever delivered the realm from Richard’s gnarled hands. Oh, was that your grandpappy who did that, my queen? You must be so proud! I can see the resemblance! Continue reading