Stripe and Spot

Stripe and Spot (learn to) Get Along

by SOPHIE KERMAN Summer sees a nice trend in the Twin Cities: just like local produce, theater starts to appear that is local, affordable, and fresher than your average mass-market products. Mixed Precipitation does it with their annual Picnic Operettas, the Classical Actors Ensemble takes Shakespeare to the parks, and Off-Leash Area has their garage tour. I was lucky enough to preview their new…

Kathryn O'Reilly, Anna Tierney, Victoria Gee, Tom Andrews, Jessica Tomchak, and Sam Graham in "Our Country's Good". Photo by Robert Workman.

Our Country’s Good

by SOPHIE KERMAN “Theatre,” says Governor Phillip early on in Our Country’s Good, “is an expression of civilization.” In Timberlake Wertenbaker‘s 1988 play, now on the Guthrie Theater‘s McGuire Proscenium Stage, certainly makes a case that theatre has the power to provide dignity and self-respect in the most abject places. Set in 1788 in New South Wales (now Australia), the play…

Maggie Chestovich, Ashley Rose Montondo and Georgia Cohen in "Crimes of the Heart". Photo by Joan Marcus.

Crimes of the Heart

by SOPHIE KERMAN There is a line between dark comedy and laughing at others’ misfortune, and the Guthrie‘s production of Crimes of the Heart has crossed it. This high-energy, highly theatrical interpretation of Beth Henley‘s 1978 Southern Gothic play gives the audience a healthy dose of belly laughs, and if that is what you want, then fine: but this…

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Hamlet

by SOPHIE KERMAN A lot of theater companies and filmmakers seem to think that in order to make Shakespeare comprehensible to modern audiences, they need to place his plays in a modern setting. But it turns out that – wait for it, this might come as a surprise – Shakespeare was actually a really great writer of the English…

Michael Milligan in "Mercy Killers". Photo by Michal Daniel.

Mercy Killers

by SOPHIE KERMAN Testimonial theatre, particularly when created for a political purpose, is fraught with danger. Actors run the ethical risks of co-opting someone else’s story, as well as the theatrical risks of not being able to do that story justice. And then there is the challenge of avoiding heavy-handedness when it comes to the play’s…

Layla Claire as Pamina and Andrew Wilkowske as Papageno. Photo by Michal Daniel.

The Magic Flute

by SOPHIE KERMAN You might think you know what opera looks like: big people in old-fashioned clothing repeating the same phrases over and over. Right? Wrong. The Minnesota Opera‘s production of Mozart‘s The Magic Flute is colorful, dramatic, and surreal. An opera, yes – but not like you’ve ever seen one before. The Magic Flute is a weird opera…

Springtime: get out of the house and out to the theater!

April is a perfect month to leave the house and go see a show. Our reviewers are very busy this month, both with our Aisle Say and our non-Aisle Say commitments. There are tons of shows opening over the next few weeks. Stay tuned for reviews of “The Magic Flute“, “The Shadow War“, “Hamlet“, and “Silkworms“,…

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Home Street Home Minneapolis: No Turning Away

by BECKY DERNBACH, guest reviewer Becky Dernbach is the communications coordinator for Occupy Homes MN and the author of Fannie and Freddie, a rhyming picture book about the housing crisis. Home Street Home Minneapolis mixes song, spoken word, humor, and heartbreak with stories about homelessness in downtown Minneapolis, written and performed primarily by people who have experienced it.  “I’m…

Gary Anderson as Clarence Darrow. Photo by Petronella Ytsma.

Naked Darrow

by SOPHIE KERMAN “If you lose the power to laugh, you lose the power to think.” – Clarence Darrow If you grew up in a radical left-wing household – or if you’ve been to law school – you’ve probably heard of Clarence Darrow, the famed defense attorney whose messy personal life didn’t interfere with saving 102 individuals from…

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The Odyssey

by SOPHIE KERMAN Charlie Bethel has garnered rave reviews, both locally and nationally, for his one-man adaptations of classic texts from Beowulf to Gilgamesh and, now, The Odyssey. Local critics seem to enjoy listing positive adjectives to describe Bethel’s performance: Dominic Papatola calls him “dazzling”, Ed Huyck says the show is “funny, thrilling, moving, and educational”, and John Olive qualifies Bethel…