Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Super quick hit: Kennedy center Discount

They Kennedy Center has discounts for 25 & under through their ATTEND discount program. The full list is here. Check out especially August: Osage County tickets for $20. I'd make this post longer but the tickets go so fast I don't want you to waste your time reading this. Go buy tickets before they sell out!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Quick Hit: Perfect for Halloween

Performance: Blood Sweat & Fears II
Theater: Molotov Theater Group, 1409 Playbill Café, 1409 14th Street NW
Metro stops: Dupont Circle-Red line or U Street/Cardozo-Green line
Genre: Gore-fest
Cost: $18, Goldstar has $9 tickets
Dates: Thought Oct 31
We're going: Oct 30, Wanna Come?

They say: The show is a cabaret-style production of three Grand Guignol one-act plays, with needlessly amped-up sex, drugs, rock and roll, blood and appalling behavior with stuffed animals. "This is pretty typical for a Molotov production – weird, gratuitous, and sophomoric. If you sit in the first few rows of the theater during the show, you might want to wear clothes you don't mind getting a little wet – or maybe a poncho. There's a good chance of some random fluids flying around, and we can't guarantee where they'll all spray."

We say: This production has gotten a pretty mediocre review from DC Theatre Scene. They are probably right that this isn't great theater, but if you are in the mood for quality, a show that warns you not to sit in the front row is probably not what you would pick. It should, however, be a great way to celebrate Devil's Night. Molotov's mission is "To revive the style of the Parisian 'Grand Guignol' horror plays - dramas that deal with macabre subjects and often graphic violence." The Grand Guignol was a Parisian theater that specialized in realistic but over-the-top horror plays. I'm not sure how Molotov does during the rest of the year, but I bet they make a killing in October. If you're in for some unnecessary violence, you should email us and come too.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Angels in America, Part I=nearly perfect

Performance: Angels in America
Theater: Forum Theatre, now at Round House, 8641 Colesville Rd, Silver Spring, MD 20910 (next to the AFI movie theater)
Metro stops: Red Line, Silver spring
Genre: Political and social dram-mentary
Cost: $25, $15 for under 30. Update: Goldstar has tickets for 12.50 but there are $4 in service fees. Might be good if you are over 30 though.
Dates: Through Nov 22
Rating for Part I: 4/5 Starving Artists
We're going: Part II - ? Pick a date and we'll come with you!

Angels in America tells a captivating story. Lady AWesome pointed out that it's hard to ruin material as good as this. It's Tony Kushner's epic. But this is not to say that Forum isn't up to the challenge either. The Playbill's note from artistic director Michael Dove says that AIA is the "most Forum play possible", and I totally see it. This play is unique and challenging, but not at all inexcusable, and it's right up Forum's alley. They tackle the work with the kind of fresh eyes that we have come to expect from this young company, now in it's 6th season and new home at Roundhouse's Silver Spring stage. All told, it's a great work, and for the most part the team was up to the challenge.

I say "for the most part" because there were a few elements that didn't do it for me. I was saddened by how un-compelling I found two of the main actors (Daniel Eichner as Joe Pitt and Alexander Strain as Louis Ironson). I've seen both before, and once again I found them to be uninspiring. And yet, they keep popping up at theaters around the city, so other people must like them. Maybe it's just me. Hmm…. These two dull performances were certainly well compensated for by an otherwise marvelous cast. Casie Platt is particularly striking as Harper and Karl Miller is fantastic as Prior Walter.

I loved the set by Tony Cisek! The back of the stage is draped with a giant tarp that sort of press down on the stage. It is as if the weight of the world is crushing the characters and it adds a sense of forebodingness and gloom that services the story well. Light and sound (designed by Colin K. Bills and Matt Neilson respectively) are also used to good effect to create as sense of palpable tension on stage. This is yet another simple and well thought out production by the team at Forum.

BE FOREWARNED: this is a 3 hour and 20 minute play with two intermissions. It does not feel long at all, but I think all three of us who went that night were a little tired by the end. None of us were sad we went, but we might have rested in preparation if we had known. We are all three excited to see part II if that tells you anything. And, if you'd like to join us, shoot me an e-mail and we'll count you in.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

It’s not that it wasn’t interesting…

Performance: 4.48 Psychosis
Theater: Factory 449, 1021 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Metro stops: Mount Vernon Sq or Chinatown
Genre: Drama (with a capital "D")
Cost: $20 (sorry no special deals, but $20 isn't bad)
Dates: Through Oct. 25
Rating: 2.5/5 Starving artists

I've been putting off telling you my thoughts on this show for a couple of weeks, and I know this doesn't do you any good, so I apologize. The problem is this: I know what to say when I love or hate a performance. It's the ones in the middle that are the issue. How do I tell you about a show to which I was indifferent? Though, perhaps, that's all you need to know.

This production has been getting rave reviews, so you don't have to take my word for it, but it didn't do much for me. I thought it was a fascinating take on the inner workings of a suicidal mind, and I might have loved to read it in a book, but it didn't captivate me on stage. The production was strong. A cast of 10 people stood on chairs and portrayed the various voices in the playwright's mind. Knowing that this was the last play that British playwright Sarah Kane wrote before she died made it all the more intense. The writing felt like free form poetry, streaming consciousness without much need for lucidity or sense-making. And all that's cool, but after a few minutes, I felt like I got it, and my understanding didn't grow as the show went on.

The show is well staged and well preformed by all, and I commend Factory 449 for tackling this difficult piece. I get why this did well at fringe this year. It is very… fringy, and that is not always a bad thing. But outside of that context, it just didn't do much for me.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Quick Hit: At Lost!

Performance: Lost in Yonkers
Theater
: Theater J, 1529 16th Street NW
Metro Stops: Dupont Circle – Red line or U Street/Cardozo-Green line. Directions here.
Genre: Jewish, but not too Jewish
Cost:
PWYC Oct 21 and 22, $30 preview Oct 24 and 25 matinee, all tickets are half price for people 35 and under (and the Sunday shows are only $30 to begin with). Goldstar has tickets starting at $12.50
We're going: Not sure yet. Let us know when you want to go.

They say: In a remarkable coming-of-age story that won 4 Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize, two brothers are left to fend for themselves in a dysfunctional household with their formidable immigrant grandmother, sweet but simple-minded aunt and a hoodlum of an uncle. This classic American tale is simultaneously comic and poignant.

We say: Theater J's production of Neil Simon's Pulitzer Prize winning play looks like it has potential. We attended the season preview event and caught a glimpse of the very young Max Talisman in action. During the discussion at that event, there was a lively debate about what gives a play Jewish content and how much "Jewish" needs to be in a play for it to make Theater J's list. There was obviously no consensus on these more rhetorical questions, but there was a consensus that for potential patron who might be concerned that plays at Theater J are too "Jew-y," Lost in Yonkers might be a good way to ease into their season. Theater J also frequently hosts talk-backs and post-show discussions. Check out the schedule here.

Quick hit: Wear comfortable shoes?!?

Performance: Full Circle
Theater:
Woolly Mammoth Theater, 641 D St, NW
Metro:
Gallery Place-green/red or Archives/Navy Memorial-Green. Directions here.
Genre:
Political satire, or so says nytimes
Cost:
from $15 for people under 25. $15 rush seats sold 2 hours before curtain
Dates:
Oct 26-Nov 29
We're going: Oct 26 for PWYC, wanna join us in line?

They say: The ancient Chinese myth of the chalk circle re-emerges at the fall of the Berlin Wall: as the crotchety East German Chancellor watches a play, students suddenly riot and the profiteers swoop in. Amid the chaos, two women launch a madcap chase to save an orphaned baby and outrun the vultures of both communism and capitalism. Their journey through Woolly's entire building comes full circle back to the stage—but can a disgraced artistic director help them reset the nation's moral compass? Full Circle is inspired by The Chalk Circle, a Chinese zaju play written in the Yuan Dynasty, which inspired The Chalk Circle by the German poet Klabund, which inspired Bertolt Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle.

They also say: Full Circle is performed throughout Woolly's facility and the audience will move with it. Comfortable shoes are recommended for this unconventional experience.

We say: We see just about everything at Woolly and their Pay-What-You-Can and 25&under deals make it super easy. Full Circle has an all-star cast including Jessica Frances Dukes (Eclipsed, Fever/Dream, and Antebellum), Sarah Marshall (who we loved in BOOM!), and Naomi Jacobson (stand out performance in Maria/Stuart). And the thought of running around the theater is certainly in intriguing. We are going on the first PWYC night (there is also a second night of previews on Oct 27). If you want to join us in line, send us an email and we'll save you a spot on the sidewalk.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Quick hit: DC JCC lits up the night(s)

Performance: Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival
Theater: DC JCC, 1529 16th Street, NW
Metro stops: Red Line, Dupont Circle
Genre: Jewish
Cost: Various, as low at $8 for under 25
Dates: Oct 18-27
We're going: Oct 22 and Oct 27, Wanna Come?

We say: My friend and fellow blogger, Reading the District, told us about this festival. He recommends Dara Horn, the Heeb Storytellers, and the slam poetry. Since he's an English major and reading teacher, I always turn to him for recommendations for literary festivals. Also, everyone I know has been recommending the book All Other Nights, so it's awesome that the DC JCC is hosting Dara Horn as part of the festival. I'm definitely going to see her and might hit up a couple more. 20Something is intrigued to learn more about Jonathon Keats's
new book of modern Jewish folklore so we may go hear him speak on the 22nd. The list of low-cost events is below and the full calendar is available here. If you want to come to any of the events, send me an email.

FREE PROGRAMS

  • Volunteer for the Festival and attend any event for free! Click here.
  • Melvin Urofsky, Louis D. Brandeis, A Life, The Bernard Wexler Lecture on Jewish History 2009, Monday, October 26, 7:30pm. Click here.

LOW-COST PROGRAMS

  • Melissa Ford, Navigating the Land of IF: Understanding Infertility and Exploring Your Options
    Sunday, October 18, Noon. Click here.
  • Screening of Adam Resurrected
    Monday, October 19, 7:30pm. Click here.
  • Robin Gerber, Barbie and Ruth
    Tuesday, October 20, Noon. Click here.
  • Zoë Heller, The Believers
    Tuesday, October 20, 7:30pm. Click here.
  • Shana Liebman, Sex, Drugs & Gefilte Fish: The Heeb Storytelling Collection
    Wednesday, October 21, 7:30pm. Click here.
  • Morris Dickstein, Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression
    Wednesday, October 21, 7:30pm. Click here.
  • Past Imperfect: New Jewish Fiction
    Thursday, October 22, 7:30pm. Click here.
  • SLAM! An Evening of Spoken Word Poetry
    Saturday, October 24, 9:00pm. Click here.
  • Sefer Safari: A Children's Book Event
    Sunday, October 25, 10:30am. Click here.
  • Joy Ladin, Transmigration Poems
    Sunday, October 25, 11:30am. Click here.
  • Neal Bascomb, Hunting Eichmann
    Sunday, October 25, 7:30pm. Click here.
  • Dara Horn, All Other Nights
    Tuesday, October 27, 7:30pm. Click here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Quick Hit: Emerge Concert

Performance: Alyssa Jacey and Margot MacDonald Live at Sabores Lounge
Metro Stops: Cleveland Park (Red Line)
Genre: Sweet tunes, dude
Date: Wednesday, October 14. 8:00-11:00
Price: $8 and 15% off dinner (not including drinks) with ticket purchase at Sabores Restaurant the night of the show!
Ages: 18 and up
I'm going! You should too

They Say: Emerge Music Group, in partnership with Sabores Lounge in Cleveland Park (Washington, DC) are excited to welcome Alyssa Jacey and Margot MacDonald to our first show! Join us for an incredible night of music as we kick off our Emerge Live Music Series at Sabores Lounge.

We Say: I don't know much about these two artists, but I checked out their Myspace pages (links below) and they sound great. My buddy (and new colleague) Ira does some awesome work with emerging artists, and he's putting on the show. He has impeccable taste in music so I'm deff going to check it out.

The Deets:
ALYSSA JACEY is making her first ever appearance in Washington, DC. This LA based singer songwriter is making a strong impression as she opens for artists including Meiko, Paula Cole, Bushwalla and more.

MARGOT MacDONALD has been recognized as New Artist of the Year and best Modern Rock Vocalist by the Washington Area Music Awards (WAMA). She is seen as a leader in the growing young artists community in the DC area.

Sabores Lounge, located at 3433 Connecticut Avenue NW, is just a few steps from the exit of the Cleveland Park Metro Station.

Quick hit: Angels in 2 parts

Performance: Angels in America
Theater: Forum Theatre, now at Round House, 8641 Colesville Rd, Silver Spring, MD 20910
Metro stops: Red Line, Silver spring
Genre: Political and social dram-mentary
Cost: $25, $15 for under 30. Update: Goldstar has tickets for 12.50 but there are $4 in service fees. Might be good if you are over 30 though.
Dates: Through Nov 22
We're going: Part I - Oct 16 Wanna Come?, Part II - ? Pick a date and we'll come with you!

They say: Set in Reagan-Era New York City, Angels in America is Tony Kushner’s two-part epic on national themes, the AIDS crisis, and spiritual and political morality. Forum presents the play that affected an entire generation for the current 2009 American landscape. A colorful array of characters become intertwined as they grapple with identity, community, guilt, intimacy and forgiveness. At once harrowing and uproarious, Angels in America is a fiercely theatrical modern morality play and a landmark of the American stage.

We say: Forum Theatre is doing Parts I and II of Angels in America this fall. Part I is already on stage and has received rave reviews. Part II opens Oct. 26 with Pay What You Can previews on Oct 24 and 25. Both parts are running simultaneously until Nov 22. Check their calendar for details. A pivotal work of modern American theater, Angels may require some background reading. We are going to see Part I on Friday (Oct 16). We'll probably see Part II also. If there is a day you want to go, send us an email and we'll tag along.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Quick hit: 2nd chance to see best of Fringe

Performance: 4.48 Psychosis

Theater: Factory 449, 1021 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

Metro stops: Mount Vernon Sq or Chinatown

Genre: Drama (with a capital "D")

Cost: $20 (sorry no special deals, but $20 isn’t bad)

Dates: Through Oct. 25

We're going: 10/11 at 7pm. Wanna come?


They say: Awakened by the shock of her own suicide, a woman is driven to reassemble the fragments of a life plagued by unsuccessful therapies and endless medications. Playwright Sarah Kane’s final play before committing suicide at the age of twenty-eight.


We say: This show premiered at the 2009 Fringe Festival, garnering glowing reviews and winning numerous awards. For those who missed it over the summer (ourselves included), Factory 449 has re-staged the show. Don’t miss it this time around. We are going on Sunday (tomorrow) at 7pm. If you want to join us, just drop us a line.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Moonlight (no, it's not about vampires)

Performance: Moonlight
Theater: Studio Theatre. 1501 14th St, NW
Metro stops: Dupont Circle -Red line or U Street/Cardozo-Green line
Genre: Obscura
Cost: Tickets are $30. There is a $5 dollar student discount too. They may also have half price rush tickets 30 min before the show or you can usher (more here). Also, Goldstar has $22 tickets for those of you who are not students.
Dates: Through October 18, at least
Rating: 2/5 Starving Artists

Confession: one of my greatest fears as a man who has quite unexpectedly found himself as an arts blogger, is that I’m going to say that I didn’t like something, and you will think I’m an idiot. This is not to say that I won’t give something a bad review, but there is always a reluctance. Especially with a play that might be intentionally esoteric. But I am going to bite the bullet and say it: I did not like Moonlight. I tried to like it, but I spent the whole play feeling like I was missing something. I probably was. If you know what I missed, I hope you’ll tell me about it in the comments section.

I think the major problem was writing. Moonlight was penned by the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature winner, Harold Pinter. I’ve been doing some reading on Pinter since seeing the play. I probably should have done that first, since I was not too familiar with his work. Apparently, according to the program, Pinter is a major player in the “British return to metaphor”. I wasn’t aware that they had left. My good friend BeebeR told me today that me that Pinter was the originator of the “one word sentence” and he has used his newly designed tool liberally in this work. I got the basic themes: death (clearly) and memory, betrayal, loss, and family. I got that the main character Andy (Ted van Griethuysen) is staring his own mortality straight in the face and trying to bridge the gap between himself and his estranged sons Jake (Anatol Yusef) and Fred (Tom Story). I get that Andy’s relationship with his wife, Bel (Sybil Lines) is strained; full of love and resentment. But beyond that, I was toast. I wanted to get the deeper levels: the allegory and metaphor, the deep symbolism, but it was (for fear of sounding dim) way over my head. I don’t go to the theater to be lost. I go to the theater to be pushed, and I don’t mind playing catch-up in the intermission (something this play didn’t have), but I just don’t enjoy spending the whole play feeling like I’m reading a book in a language I do not know.

The performances were good. Griethuysen and Lines were notably captivating as the aging couple facing Andy’s impending death, and the brothers played their quipy banter for a few good laughs. They seemed to be doing the best they could with this material that was, it would seem, intentionally murky.

Perhaps I will feel about Pinter how I feel about Brecht. When I go to see a Brecht play, I leave saying, “well that was very Brecht”. This is neither good nor bad, but the best Brecht is perfectly Brechtian. Maybe this play was very Pinter. I’ve got nothing to compare it to.

I hope you won’t think me dull. I really wanted to like the play. I really wanted to get it. But it just wasn’t for me. If you felt different, please tell us about it in comments.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Quick hit: highly recomended

Theater: 1st Stage Spring Hill, 1524 Spring HIll Rd. McLean, VA 22102
Metro stops: none, which is too bad. It's by Tyson's Corner. It's an easy drive, but be for warned, the theater is in a stripped down building, it looks like an office or a factory on the outside but is a gorgeous new theater on the inside.
Genre: Comedy of errors.
Cost: Tickets are $15 for students and $25 for adults.
Dates: Through October 4 (hey, that's this weekend!)
We're going: 10/3. Wanna come?

They say:
Unwilling to take a chance on an arranged marriage, our two intended lovers swap places with their servants so that they can size each other up from a less privileged position. Desire, agony, neuroses, and lust blend with wit, charm, surprise, and farce into romantic comic delight. "Marivaux's 17th Century classic, transported here to the 1930's, is as fresh as the day it was written."

We say:
20Something's office mate and new DB reader, B-Mac (hi B-Mac!) sees a lot of theater. Perhaps even more theater than us. So when she says that this is one of the best things she's seen, we take notice. We're thrilled to be going this Sat, but sad that it'll be closing on Sun. So, if you want to join us for B-Mac's pick of the fall, shoot us an e-mail and we will save you a seat in the car.
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