Monthly Archives: January 2016

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.

 

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How to Land a House on Mars: My new feature for Air & Space / Smithsonian

A crew recovers the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator test vehicle from the Pacific after LDSD's second atmospheric test, June 2015.

I’ve got a big feature in the March 2016 issue of Air & Space / Smithsonian, where I work, about the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator, which is the two-stage technology NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena is working on that will one day allow NASA to deposit heavier objects on the surface of Mars intact than they have up ’til now — a problem they need to solve before any potential crewed mission could happen. Sounds pretty dry and technical, maybe, but why not show a little confidence in my ability to tell a story? My pal and editor Heather Goss already made me take all the acronyms out, upping the likelihood you’ll read this, we both hope.

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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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