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Friday, July 13, 2018

Performance Review: In Parcours, JoRose Explores the Spiritual Experience of Growth in a Limiting Physical World

Posted By on Fri, Jul 13, 2018 at 11:37 AM

Johanna Rose Burwell: Parcours ★★★ July 5–7 The Fruit, Durham Parcours, the new performance piece that Johanna Rose Burwell (aka JoRose) premiered at The Fruit last week, is an exploration of the spiritual experience of growth in a physical world and the limits placed on it by the body, the mind, and society. “This is a party, so enjoy yourself,” JoRose exclaimed as we took our seats. Indeed, the atmosphere felt like a party, and the venue was partly the reason. JoRose transformed an old loading dock in what used to be the Durham Fruit and Produce Company into...

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Monday, July 9, 2018

ADF Review: In an Era of Tested Faith, the Buoyancy of Rosie Herrera's Belief Might Just See Us Through

Posted By on Mon, Jul 9, 2018 at 1:51 PM

Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre: Make Believe ★★★★ Friday, Jul. 6 & Saturday, Jul. 7 Reynolds Industries Theater, Durham Choreographer Rosie Herrera still has the power to astonish us. If she retains her usual ability to effectively edit her own work, then Make Believe, which had its world premiere Friday night at the American Dance Festival, will become one of her most notable achievements. In a post-performance conversation, Herrera candidly admitted that the company had still been at work on the piece just before its premiere, and that significant edits remained in store before its second iteration Saturday night. That...

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Friday, July 6, 2018

Theater Review: There Are Plenty of Laughs Left in Mo Gaffney and Kathy Najimy's Sketch Comedy in Parallel Lives

Posted By on Fri, Jul 6, 2018 at 5:46 PM

Parallel Lives★★★½ Through Saturday, Jul. 7 Burning Coal Theatre, Raleigh If our culture has moved beyond the reductive view that feminism isn’t funny, Mo Gaffney and Kathy Najimy had something to do with it. A generation before the likes of Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer, the pair parlayed its brand of sharp sketch comedy, interwoven with serious social observations, into a celebrated West Coast stage show in the eighties. An Obie-winning off-Broadway production and subsequent HBO specials made them an early-nineties staple on Comedy Central. Parallel Lives, whose Women’s Theatre Festival production closes this weekend at Burning Coal Theatre,...

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ADF Review: L-E-V's OCD Love Purports to Be About Missed Connections, but We Saw Something Else Entirely

Posted By on Fri, Jul 6, 2018 at 2:15 PM

L-E-V: OCD Love ★★★ Tuesday, July 3 Durham Performing Arts Center, Durham Program notes can be a lifesaver. The short text explaining a show’s inspiration or meaning often serves as a map lighting up an otherwise inscrutable performance. Sometimes, though, they lead to a dead end. That’s how I felt watching OCD Love, a work by Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar's company L-E-V. The program notes explained that the show is about lovers failing to connect, but that’s not what I saw. Not even close. Rather, OCD Love appears to be about five people at a club, gyrating to techno...

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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Dance Review: The Many Moving Parts of The Bipeds' 54 Strange Words Don't Always Perfectly Mesh. But When They Do, It's Spectacular.

Posted By on Wed, Jul 4, 2018 at 9:48 AM

The Bipeds: 54 Strange Words ★★★½ Thursday, Jun. 21–Sunday, Jun. 24 The Fruit, Durham Perhaps halfway through local dance-music company The Bipeds' 54 Strange Words, which premiered as the closer in the DIDA season near the end of June, I saw something I'll never forget. Dana Marks, whom you likely know as an actor and director with Little Green Pig, emerged into the performance space at The Fruit, joining dancer and choreographer Stacy Wolfson, banjoist and singer Curtis Eller, and their ensemble of dancers and movers among the smoldering shadows. Wearing stilts beneath a long robe that had a...

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Monday, July 2, 2018

ADF Review: Anne Plamondon Portrays Her Childhood Experience of Her Father's Schizophrenia with Skill, Intelligence, and Genuine Vulnerability

Posted By on Mon, Jul 2, 2018 at 8:33 AM

Anne Plamondon ★★★★ Saturday, Jun. 30 & Sunday, Jul. 1 Von der Heyden Studio Theater, Durham “I was scared,” Anne Plamondon says during her solo show, The Same Eyes as Yours, about visiting her father in a mental hospital when she was a small child. And that’s all I could think about during the piece: how afraid and angry she must’ve been to have had a father with schizophrenia who never recovered. This is a testament to her skill as a choreographer and performer. Plamondon was able to create that world for the audience, displaying a sense of the...

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ADF Review: A Concert of Dance by Returning Alumni Reminds Us That Sometimes, You Can't Go Home Again

Posted By on Mon, Jul 2, 2018 at 8:14 AM

Coming Home: ADF Alumni Return ★★ Saturday, Jun. 23 & Sunday, Jun. 24 Reynolds Industries Theater, Durham Homecomings can be bittersweet affairs, and ADF’s alumni showcase was a particularly dispiriting one. It’s hard to imagine that more than a hundred other submitted dance works were less accomplished than the mostly unfortunate quintet selected by a blue-chip panel of professionals: ADF alumni themselves, including Elaine Bayless, Nicholas Leichter, and Larry Keigwin. Even harder to swallow: Apparently, no work by female alumnae met the problematic curatorial standards here. Two of the five works we saw were largely exercises in form without...

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Monday, June 25, 2018

ADF Review: Pilobolus's Crowd-Pleasing Dance Is Apolitical. Unfortunately, the World It Inhabits Is Not.

Posted By on Mon, Jun 25, 2018 at 12:32 PM

Pilobolus ★½ Thursday, Jun. 21 & Friday, Jun. 22 Durham Performing Arts Center, Durham Pilobolus exempts itself from politics. The dance company wants you to escape the real world and have a good time for a couple of hours. It wants to give you a handful of chuckles and elicit some oohs and aahs in return. It operates in two distinct modes: hamming it up—exaggeratedly acting like animals, pantomiming to sound effects—or smoothing it out, showing off physical strength and skill at counterbalancing human bodies in muscular poses, lifts, and spins. That’s enough to send most people home impressed...

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Friday, June 22, 2018

Theater Review: One of Theater's Great Sacrificial Characters Strikes Back in Iphigenia in Splott

Posted By on Fri, Jun 22, 2018 at 3:31 PM

Iphigenia in Splott ★★★★½ Through Saturday, Jun. 23 Burning Coal Theatre, Raleigh Iphigenia is one of the greatest sacrificial characters in Greek mythology. Splott, however, is a rundown section of Cardiff, Wales, best known to locals as the place where a library, swimming pool, doctor’s office, and other amenities used to be—before government funding cuts. “They cut everything we need to make a life,” a chronic, salty-tongued young alcoholic, purposefully named Effie, tells us in  playwright Gary Owen’s harrowing, challenging one-person show. As in the ancient texts, a soldier will cruelly betray this unlikely Iphigenia. She will also be repeatedly...

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ADF Review: Shen Wei, Samuel Beckett, and Morton Feldman Meet in the Bardo in Neither

Posted By on Fri, Jun 22, 2018 at 9:58 AM

Shen Wei Dance Arts: Neither★★★★½ Saturday, June 16 & Sunday, June 17 Durham Performing Arts Center, Durham In retrospect, it was obvious. If grim Samuel Beckett, indeterminate composer Morton Feldman, and choreographer Shen Wei were going to meet anywhere, it was going to be in the bardo, that liminal space between lives contemplated in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Shen’s interpretation of Neither, the disquieting 1977 “opera” Feldman composed to Beckett’s skeletal eighty-seven-word libretto, seems to document transactions in that Buddhist analog of purgatory, a disorienting place of reckoning and transformation where souls work out their next incarnation....

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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Movie Review: A Murky Moral and the Diminishing Returns of Digital Dinos Weigh on a Once-Mighty Franchise in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Posted By on Thu, Jun 21, 2018 at 9:47 AM

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ★★½ Opening Friday, June 22 The tension between science and consumerism is the narrative thread running throughout the Jurassic Park franchise. It’s a marvel to revive an iconic extinct species, but these dinos ain’t going to sell themselves. In 2015, Jurassic World saw the realization of John Hammond’s dream of a dinosaur-centric amusement park, at least until the customers became the day’s feeding. Now, at the outset of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, an erupting volcano threatens to turn the cloned dinosaurs living in and around the now-derelict theme park on Isla Nublar back into fossils....

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Friday, June 15, 2018

ADF Review: Dayton Contemporary Dance Company Offers a Muscular, Political, Restless Evening of Virtuosic Dance

Posted By on Fri, Jun 15, 2018 at 4:49 PM

Dayton Contemporary Dance Company ★★★★½ Through Saturday, June 16 Reynolds Industries Theater, Durham We are watching. We have been preparing. And we are ready for whatever you can throw at us. That’s the message that Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, which is devoted to the work and performance of artists of color, delivered with an inspiring program to open the 2018 American Dance Festival. Muscular, political, and restless, the evening (which repeats tonight and also has a children's matinee tomorrow) combines old and new work and features the world premiere of Indestructible, choreographed by Abby Zbikowski. The program opens with...

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Movie Review: At Least We Get Bening, Moss, and Ronan Mucking Around in Chekhovian Mischief in an Otherwise Standard The Seagull

Posted By on Fri, Jun 15, 2018 at 10:21 AM

The Seagull★★★ Now playing You love her But she loves him And he loves somebody else You just can't win —The J. Geils Band, “Love Stinks” It's summertime on a nineteenth-century Russian country estate, and love triangles are colliding in a tangle of messy geometry. The aging stage actress Irina is visiting her lover Trigorin, a famous writer from Moscow. Alas, Trigorin is bewitched by young Nina, who is with Konstantin, Irina's resentful son. Meanwhile, the schoolteacher Medvedenko is obsessed with Masha, daughter of the steward, whose wife, Polina, is in love with the town physician, Yevgeny, who's pursuing—you...

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Movie Review: Fourteen Years Later, Incredibles 2 Is Stuffed with Allusions to Contemporary Social Issues. But to What End?

Posted By on Thu, Jun 14, 2018 at 1:07 PM

Incredibles 2 ★★★½ Now playing Although the plot of Incredibles 2 picks up where its forerunner left off, it’s been fourteen years since the moviegoing public checked in on the Parr family. The storyline is uninterrupted, but the focus of the metaphors has shifted with the times. Whereas The Incredibles was largely a commentary on exceptionalism, its sequel adopts an array of more progressive social contexts. The end result is fun, funny, and timely, but not quite transcendent. The Incredibles’ failed, calamitous pursuit of the Underminer triggers the government to shutter the Super Relocation program, forcing superheroes to retreat...

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Dance Review: Anna Barker Burns Toxic Masculinity and Self-Doubt as Fuel for a Work Full of Humor and Beauty

Posted By on Thu, Jun 14, 2018 at 10:12 AM

real.live.people: Again, but this time with feeling ★★★★ Thursday, Jun. 7–Sunday, Jun. 10 Living Arts Collective, Durham One way to respond to oppression is to make fists and fight back. That kind of conflict draws attention to a revolutionary cause, but one risks everything in the fight—not just losing it, but also losing oneself in it. In Again, but this time with feeling, Durham-based dancer and choreographer Anna Barker’s new evening-length work with her company, real.live.people, and other local artists, the fists are unclenched. Instead, hands proffer vulnerability and reflection in a work about preserving one’s being amid struggle, which turns...

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Friday, June 8, 2018

Theater Review: Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater's Songs Can't Quite Shine Through a Patchy Production of Spring Awakening

Posted By on Fri, Jun 8, 2018 at 4:30 PM

Spring Awakening★★½ Through Sunday, June 17 North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre, Raleigh Spring Awakening, Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik’s triple Tony-winning 2007 musical, is set in Germany a century ago, when public education about contraception was criminalized. Generations of teenage boys and girls, like the ones depicted in the musical, learned by trial and error—and lived and died by the consequences. But if the musical is about the tragic outcomes of adolescent children not learning survival skills about human sexuality, then this too-minimal NRACT production suffers because its young actors haven’t fully learned basic musical-theater survival skills, including vocal...

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Thursday, June 7, 2018

Theater Review: Not Every Forty-Year-Old Thriller Still Elicits Gasps Like Deathtrap

Posted By on Thu, Jun 7, 2018 at 9:01 AM

Deathtrap★★★★ Through Sunday, June 10 NCSU’s Titmus Theatre, Raleigh To anyone considering a relationship with a wordsmith, a word of warning, from experience: Writers don’t fight—at least, not in any conventional sense. Instead, they just … rewrite. I went from romantic lead to episodic supporting character in one distractible young author’s life while I was out buying groceries. Then there was the college-town scribe who decided my views—and face—needed a bit more editing, with his fists. So everyone surrounding Deathtrap’s central character, a playwright named Sidney Bruhl, has good reason to be wary. By the end of Ira Levin’s devious...

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Friday, May 25, 2018

Theater Review: Some Theater Is Timeless, but Chamber Musical Daddy Long Legs Can't Shake the Twentieth Century

Posted By on Fri, May 25, 2018 at 1:35 PM

Daddy Long Legs ★★½ Through, Sunday May 27 Kennedy Theatre, Raleigh The chamber musical Daddy Long Legs tries so hard to join us in the twenty-first century. In the book by John Caird (the original director of the mega-musical Les Misérables) and the lyrics by Paul Gordon, two characters strain against the societal conventions of the first decade of the twentieth century. Jerusha Abbott (played by a luminous Hilary Maiberger for Theatre Raleigh) is the oldest ward of the John Grier Home, a lovely, lifeless orphanage, but her potentially permanent position is changed when Jervis Pendleton, a wealthy young...

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Movie Review: Sebastián Lelio's Hotly Anticipated Disobedience Is a Strangely Flat Look at Lesbian Love in a Hasidic Community

Posted By on Fri, May 18, 2018 at 6:30 PM

Disobedience ★★½ Now playing Acclaimed Chilean director Sebastián Lelio's hotly anticipated Disobedience sets out to explore the complexities of lesbian sexuality within the conservative, hermetic Hasidic community. The film stars Rachel Weisz as Ronit and Rachel McAdams as Esti, former teenage lovers who became estranged when Ronit fled the restrictive life of the Hasidim to become a photographer in New York. When Ronit returns to attend her father’s funeral, she discovers that Esti has married Dovid (Alessandro Nivola), a close childhood friend of the two women. Cowritten by Lelio and Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Disobedience is flat in transmitting the sense of...

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Theater Review: Francesca Ferrari Captures a Rock Icon's Reckless Conviction in A Night with Janis Joplin

Posted By on Thu, May 17, 2018 at 2:57 PM

A Night with Janis Joplin ★★★★ Through Sunday, May 20 Fletcher Opera Theater, Raleigh It’s the matter-of-fact delivery that makes the line so devastating. “People like their blues singers miserable,” Janis Joplin says. “People like their blues singers to die.” Boom. All the light and air go out of the room as designer Ryan O’Gara silhouettes the vulnerable rock star in a single cold, white spotlight. There are other moments that qualify NC Theatre’s production of A Night with Janis Joplin as something of a musical séance, at least when Francesca Ferrari is at the helm as the title character....

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Friday, May 4, 2018

Theater Review: NRACT's Peter and the Starcatcher Has the Line Item Often Left Out of Production Budgets: Imagination

Posted By on Fri, May 4, 2018 at 10:30 AM

Peter and the Starcatcher★★★★ Through Sunday, May 6 North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre, Raleigh Sometimes the cheapest theatrical effects have the greatest charm. I remember how an overhead projector, a cake of shoe polish, and a stick once replaced the digital projector and graphics software we couldn’t get for a college production. Voila! Magic writing on the wall for about $1.98, and a reminder that you don’t always need five, four, or even three figures to pull off a show. The line item most often left out of production budgets is for imagination. That’s hardly in short supply...

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Monday, April 30, 2018

Theater Review: Shakespeare Speaks to Every Age but Sometimes Mumbles When He's Drunk

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2018 at 4:03 PM

ShakesBEER II: The Bard Strikes Back★★★ Through Thursday, May 3 Various venues, Triangle-wide Shakespeare speaks to every age. Sometimes, though, he mumbles when he’s drunk. That’s one takeaway from Bare Theatre's ShakesBEER II, a new comic collection of Shakespearean souses that’s making the rounds at local bars through this Thursday. (We saw it at Mystery Brewing Co. in Hillsborough; the remaining shows are at Durham's Ponysaurus on May 2 and Raleigh’s Imurj on May 3.) As with the show’s first incarnation, adaptor Chuck Keith, director Dustin Britt, and a winning quartet of game young actors filter what performer Glenn Greggs...

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Full Frame: The Price of Everything Is a Nuanced Indictment of Art's Relationship to Money

Posted By on Thu, Apr 12, 2018 at 12:27 PM

The Price of Everything★★★★½ Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, Durham I had been waiting for this documentary for almost ten years. In the early 2010s, I was an art history graduate student working at a mid-level gallery in New York’s Chelsea scene, wanting to experience the world of contemporary art firsthand. I was certainly in for a surprise, finding that art galleries were more akin to Wall Street than the avant-garde collective of makers I had romanticized. Instead, I witnessed the art market operating as a form of currency and exchange; paintings were financial assets analogous to stocks and...

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Full Frame: Fred Rogers, Who Benevolently Raised Generations of Children on Public Television, Gets His Due in Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Posted By on Wed, Apr 11, 2018 at 11:28 AM

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?★★★★½ Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, Durham Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, the story of the nationally beloved TV icon known as Mr. Rogers, captures the incredibly genuine nature of the late Fred Rogers. This man was not making a television show to strike it rich, wield power, prove someone right or wrong, or make something of himself. He made the show because he cared so deeply about children, about helping them process their thoughts and feelings in a complex world of adults who told them they would understand everything when they were older. Through...

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Saturday, April 7, 2018

Full Frame: Talal Derki Daringly Infiltrates a Jihadist Community in Of Fathers and Sons

Posted By on Sat, Apr 7, 2018 at 10:03 AM

Of Fathers and Sons★★★★ Friday, April 6 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, Durham Have you ever glimpsed life inside a radical Islamic caliphate? If you’re reading this, you probably haven’t. Anyone who has is most likely still living inside it, not sharing its story with the world. Though they are an extreme minority to the overwhelming majority of peaceful Muslims, jihadists magnetize global media attention with their egregiously violent acts. Still, we seldom see their day-to-day life. Journalists and documentarians can't just walk in and out of radical Islamic communities. Well, not unless they have the daring to temporarily...

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Here's a shout-out to the dancers and musicians of The Bipeds who are not mentioned by name in this article. …

by The Bipeds on Dance Review: The Many Moving Parts of The Bipeds' 54 Strange Words Don't Always Perfectly Mesh. But When They Do, It's Spectacular. (Arts)

You probably want to refrain from using ableist language.

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I love stories like this.

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Mr. Woods must have seen a very different production than the one I saw or perhaps he was having an …

by Amy Ginsburg on Theater Review: Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater's Songs Can't Quite Shine Through a Patchy Production of Spring Awakening (Arts)

Sure he could have said more. But his answers, while terse, were responsive to the questions. And I've done a …

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Here's a shout-out to the dancers and musicians of The Bipeds who are not mentioned by name in this article. …

by The Bipeds on Dance Review: The Many Moving Parts of The Bipeds' 54 Strange Words Don't Always Perfectly Mesh. But When They Do, It's Spectacular. (Arts)

You probably want to refrain from using ableist language.

by vidvis on ADF Review: Pilobolus's Crowd-Pleasing Dance Is Apolitical. Unfortunately, the World It Inhabits Is Not. (Arts)

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