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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Noises Off Makes All the Right Moves and Sounds

Michael Frayn's Noises Off is one of theater's best modern farces. It's got all the prerequisite doors, mistaken identity, misunderstandings and - as I mentioned in the film Get Me to the Greek - a need by the characters to accomplish what they set out to do. In this case, it's to put on a play called Nothing On. (We know this because Frayn gives us a hilarious send-up of a program for Nothing On on the back of the real program.)
Keegan Theater does a smashing job with the show in its current production at the intimate Church Street Theater in Dupont Circle - extended to Aug. 29 and half-price tickets available from Goldstar. In the first act we see a rehearsal of Nothing On and start to get a sense of the relationships of the cast and the challenges they face in their roles. In the amazing second act, we see the behind-the-scenes happenings as the show is going on. It takes incredible timing to pull off this act, as objects are tossed, characters intersect and the dialogue goes on both in front and in back of the stage.
Kudos to this theater for this very welcomed summer dollop of fun! Try to see it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Catch a Couple Films Before They Leave

Good news - Please Give has been brought back by the Avalon. I believe this is a better film than the more heralded The Kids Are All Right. The dialogue just rings truer. Daily showtines are 1:15 and 6:15. I've seen some of the best films upstairs at the Avalon including Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 and the recent Let It Rain. Reminds me of the old Janus in Dupont but without that huge column in the middle.

I remember reading that the key to farce - on stage or in a film - is that the characters really need whatever it is they're after. Thus Noises Off, which is currently at the Church Street Theater in Dupont, works because a play has to be put on and the characters and director need it to work (or need to carry out their own desires). In the same way, Get Me to the Greek, still playing at the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse, works incredibly well because of the desperate nature of the two lead characters. Jonah Hill has to grow up, succeed in getting his musical hero, Alduous Snow (the incredible Russell Brand), to the Greek Theatre for his comeback concert, and make his relationship work - because he has a girlfriend that he should appreciate. Thus whatever happens on the way from London to Los Angeles is believable. It has been said that the greatest achievement of this Judd Apatow team of people - Nichloas Stoller and Jason Segel co-wrote this one - is that they have made romantic leads out of Jonah Hill and Seth Rogen. Hard to argue with that. Oh, Sean Combs almost steals this film. Hopefully, we'll see him in more films.

On stage, Woolly Mammoth Theater will be premiering Sarah Ruhl's In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play - fresh from Broadway - with PWYC performances Aug. 23 and 24. This got great reviews in New York but it's just so hard for a straight play to make it on Broadway.