Monthly Archives: June 2011

OKnowGOwritethereviewthankyou

I’ve written about OK Go, a band I like, on two prior occasions. The first time, I even incurred a big, fat ugly correction for four errors in the piece, only one of which was present in my copy as filed. (I’ve forgiven and forgotten, obviously!) Plus a lot of randomly italicized letters. But this piece I wrote in the Kennedy Center’s press closet in half an hour on a bottle of water and a cookie. With a headache.
Continue reading

Now Witness the Firepower of This Fully Armed and Operational Battle Station!: U2 Takes Baltimore Like the Muppets and Leonard Cohen (Separately) Took Manhattan

Why yes, I am fairly pleased with this hed for my DCist review of U2’s visit to Baltimore last night on their stadium-straddling 360 Tour. I can talk your damn ear off about this band, which you know if you’ve known me longer than ten minutes. Now it can be told: U2’s most famous member, whom I had more class than to refer to as “the world’s tallest short person” in my review, is responsible for the title of this very blog.

My confederate Kyle Gustafson did not take the photo above, but he did shoot many excellent photographs at the concert, which I encourage you to enjoy as part of the review or on his own site.

Wherein I Proclaim Studio Theatre’s A History of Kisses: Seaworthy!

And also say other boat things! Boat things ahoy! And/or ho! As appropriate!

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Separated-at-Infancy-but-Equally-Limber Identical Twin Brother: Reflections, 20 years on, on the twofold, um, legacy of Double Impact

Yeah, I'm shot a little bit, but it's ALL GOOD, brah!

My friend the noted film critic Ian Buckwalter shows movies on the roof of his building in the summertime. These are not, for the most part, bad movies, but they are perhaps misunderstood. What they share is a very particular aesthetic; one we’re still struggling to define, but Reaganomics doesn’t quite cover it. I think Ian will agree with me when I say that selecting films for Cinema sur le Toit calls to mind what Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously said about pornography: “I really, really enjoy it.”

Anyway, I was campaigning hard for Double Impact to make the list this year. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that was the first — not the only, bizarrely! — joint in which Jean-Claude Van Damme appeared as identical twin brothers. Here is the unabridged text of my keynote address from last night’s screening. I regret only that I didn’t practice pronouncing australopithecine ahead of time. Trying to seat-of-my-pants that shit was flying too close to the sun. That was arrogance, my friends. That was folly.

TRANSCRIPT COMMENCES Continue reading

Totalitarian Recall: PURGE and I Wish You Love

I Wish You Love, a new, original “drama with music” from St. Paul, MN’s Penumbra Theatre tells the tale of how beloved entertainer Nat “King” Cole chose to end his 1956-7 TV variety show, the first primetime network program hosted by an African-American.

Cole dipped into his own pocket to keep it going, and A-list friends like Peggy Lee, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Tony Bennett appeared for scale, but it was no use: With Montgomery Bus Boycott still in effect, no national sponsor would risk paying to bring a black man into America’s homes. When NBC insisted Cole segregate the players in his band, which didn’t even appear on camera, he finally balked. Ironically, lack of a live band is what keeps this show from living up to its considerable potential. It features 20 songs; far too many given that its Cole, Dennis W. Spears, is singing to prerecorded music. And several songs fail to advance or comment upon the story in any resonant way — not necessarily a problem, if Spears can sing the shit out of them. Continue reading

Escape Verbosity: The Decemberists at Merriweather Post Pavilion, reviewed

My review of that Decemberists concert the other night was my first DCist piece in nine months!

The most devout among you might conceivably care that I reviewed two prior Decemberists concerts, from March 2007 and June 2009, both for the Washington Post.

He’s just paying his rent every day with the Wheel of Song.

Today my friend Amanda Mattos has left me the keys to her fine blog Pinna Storm while she is away on vacation. To help fill all that space, I wrote a thing about my man Elvis Costello‘s current, roulette-wheel-driven Revolver Tour, which I will be attending at the DMV’s finest outdoor music venue, Wolf Trap, on Wednesday night. But it’s really the problem of long-lived artists trying to summarize their careers in two hours, give or take, that I’m Rubik’s-cubing here.

BOBRAUSCHENBERGAMERICA, considered

Annie Houston, Julie Garner & Cliff Williams III. (Melissa Blackall)

BOBRAUSCHENBERGAMERICA. Another winner from Forum Theatre, whose Last Days of Judas Iscariot was my favorite show of, um… 2008, was it? Reviewed for WCP. Continue reading

S and Empathy: Studio’s Venus in Fur, reviewed, plus Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them

Christian Conn and Erica Sullivan whip it good. (Scott Suchman)

Venus in Fur
by David Ives
Directed by David Muse
At Studio Theatre to July 3

“I hate the audition process,” sighed provocateur-playwright David Mamet in a 2005 Los Angeles Times essay. “As an actor, I found it demeaning. As a writer and director, I find it damn near useless.”

It’s David Ives, not Mamet, whose fertile imagination begat Venus in Fur, a wickedly ingenious dark comedy that premiered in New York last year and has now arrived at the Studio Theatre in a new production that preserves its whip-smarts fully intact. But Mamet’s essay, “The Tyranny of the Audition,” could’ve contributed a perfectly descriptive moniker for Ives’s play had the latter not already borrowed the name of a scandalous 19th century German novella about a man who derives sexual pleasure from being abused. (If you already knew that the novella’s author’s name, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, is the origin of the term masochism, go to the the head of the class. And continue down the hall the principal’s office; we’re totally calling your parents.)

Ives’s intelligent design is not a straightforward adaptation of the novella. He presents us instead with a youngish, famous-ish, not-yet-rich theater artiste who’s trying to cast his new adaptation thereof. After a long day’s fruitless search for an age-appropriate, articulate and sexy “actress who can actually pronounce the word ‘degradation’ without a tutor,” playwright-director Thomas is surprised when a woman barges into his shabby studio from out of the rain, all self-flagellating apologies for showing up hours late for an audition he can’t even find on the schedule. He tries to blow her off but you know she’s going to read for him anyway, and if any ladies or actors or lady actors or anybody is getting vapors hearing such a brazen male wish-fulfillment scenario recounted, just you wait. As Vanda pries off her rain poncho to reveal her patent leather (or vinyl?) bondage gear — just wait, I said! — the balance of power between omnipotent creator and helpless actor has already begun its hypnotic migration across the stage. Continue reading