Arts Fuse critics select the best in music, film, dance, author events, and theater for the coming week.
By The Arts Fuse Staff
January 26 at 7 p.m.
Brattle Theater, Cambridge, MA
The Docyard Series begins with Amir Bar-Lev’s look at the Jerry Sandusky scandal in which the longtime defensive coach was convicted on 45 counts related to the sexual abuse of children. Much of the tragedy revolves around the fall of revered Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno. Interviews with Matt Sandusky, Jerry Sandusky’s adopted son, adds another disturbing element to the story. Bar-Lev directed two other superb documentaries, The Tillman Story and My Kid Could Paint That. As he did in those films, whose subjects were war and art respectively, the director only uses the topic at hand (in his case, sports) as the means to spark the beginning of a much larger and important conversation. This is a brilliant film, and director Bar-Lev and producer Ken Dornstein will attend in person for a Q&A.
Ottawa International Film Festival
January 30 & February 1 at Noon
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA
Warning: the final screenings of latest version of perennially popular show. The generally inventive and inspiring entries in the 2014 Ottawa Animation Festival are from the U.S.A, U.K., Russia, Poland, Iceland, and Canada.
In Case of No Emergency: The Films of Ruben Ostlund
January 28 -31
Museum of Fine Arts Boston
His recent film Force Majeure introduced Swedish director Ruben Östlund to a wide audience as a satirist whose comic style is patient and unblinking. His provocative stories examine how human instinct clashes with social expectation. Along with the latest film, the MFA is screening two short films — Incident by the Bank and Autobiographical Scene Number 688 — paired with his three features:
Play: In central Gothenburg, Sweden, a group of boys, aged 12 to 14, robbed other children on about 40 occasions between 2006 and 2008. The thieves used an elaborate scheme called the “little brother number” or “brother trick,” which involved advanced role-playing and gang rhetoric rather than physical violence. The British Telegraph said this film was “wildly impolite in the way it addresses our liberal sensibilities, and almost contemptuously rigorous in the workout it wants to give them.”
Involuntary: Five stories of how human behavior can be interpreted in different ways by different people. The film has directorial echoes of Vinterberg, Altman, and Heneke.
The Guitar Mongoloid: The director calls this “a result of fascination, intuition, accident, hubris, and my aggression to today’s film and media images.” Its fragmentary and rambling style recalls Harmony Korine’s Gummo and Dominic Gagnon’s little seen Hoax_Canular (reviewed in Arts Fuse).
The Duke of Burgundy
January 30 through February 5
Brattle Theater, Cambridge, MA
Move over Shades of Grey! This is a dark and semi-comic portrayal of a sadomasochistic affair between two lesbian entomologists. Director Peter Strickland (Berberian Sound Studio) “once again demonstrates a marvelous gift for modulating tone . . . somewhere between Luis Buñuel’s Belle de Jour and Joseph Losey’s The Servant. By turns kinky, dryly comic, and compellingly surreal, and boasting gorgeous, gothic cinematography and an enveloping score by orchestral pop duo Cat’s Eyes, The Duke of Burgundy is — like Strickland’s previous work — a richly immersive sensory experience. (Toronto)
— Tim Jackson
James Baldwin: The Price of a Ticket
January 26 at 6 p.m.
At Suffolk University’s Modern Theatre, Boston, MA
A very fine 1989 documentary (the version to be screened here is billed as a “21st century restoration”) about the life and mind of the African-American author James Baldwin, including fascinating tidbits about his novels, essays, and plays as well as his efforts as a civil rights activist. A Q&A with director/producer Karen Thorsen and writer/producer Doug Dempsey will follow the screening.
— Bill Marx
Flamenco Dance Project
Regis College Casey Theatre,
“De Todos Los Sabores” offers a hot flamenco night of passionate dancing, fancy footwork, and distinctive music with guests Mariano Cruceta Serrano & Jose Cortés Fernández. The Flamenco Dance Project regulars include company director Sabrina Avilés, guitarist Juanito Pascual, plus Jose Moreno, Barbara Martinez, Yosi Karahashi and Laura Sanchéz. A special dance and music workshop will take place on Saturday afternoon with a rhythm/palmas workship on Sunday. Check the website for details.
Talk about immersive dance! It’s great when dance pops up in unexpected venues. National Choreography Month Boston (NACHMO) 2015 has scheduled an eclectic performance and dance party in a Somerville brewery and restaurant. Local dancers Intimations Dance with choreographers Michael Figueroa, Sarah Mae Gibbons, and Wisty Andres are joined by Paradise Lost and a cohort of live musicians, VJs, and local DJ Univer-AL. The event starts at 6 and runs through midnight; there’s no cover, but you must be 21 to attend.
Mahler’s Third Symphony Ballet on film
Coolidge Corner Theatre
In this 10 a.m. broadcast from the Paris Opera Ballet featuring Maîtrise des Hauts-de-Seine and the Paris Opera Children’s chorus, choreographer John Neumeier “enters the composer’s tormented and contrasting universe to sculpt images of a powerful and profound lyricism.”
and further afield…
Ayan-Imai Hall & Friends
The Dance Hall
Take a break the afternoon before the Superbowl with an enlivening percussive performance in the intimate setting of Kittery’s Dance Hall. Ayan Imai-Hall, member of the Tapestry Dance Company in Austin, Texas presents a show featuring noted Boston Conservatory tapper Ian Berg, and hoofers Brittany Destefano and Karissa Royster (who are visiting from New York City) alongside musicians Sal Hughes, Ethan Hotchkiss, and Jared Steer.
— Debra Cash
Captain Boycott [recommended for ages 12 & up, January 28 through February 1] and The Nothing Is Not Ready Circus [recommended for everyone, January 24 and 25]. Directed by Peter Schumann. Created and staged by Bread & Puppet Theater at the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts (BCA), 539 Tremont St., South End, Boston, MA, through February 1.
The award-winning Bread & Puppet extravaganza comes to town with something for everyone — radical politics, circus antics, giant puppets, low humor, crowd-pleasing music, bewildered volunteer performers, and “a political art installation conceived by Schumann, along with the sale of Bread & Puppet’s legendary Cheap Art and the opportunity to savor Schumann’s home-made sourdough rye bread spread with garlic-laden aioli.” The aioli is killer …
The Second Girl by Ronan Noone. Directed by Campbell Scott. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at the Virginia Wimberly Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA, through February 21.
Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night is the backdrop for this play, “which is set in the downstairs world of the Tyrone family kitchen in August 1912. Two Irish immigrant servant girls and the chauffeur search for love, success, and a sense of belonging in their new world.” This is the world premiere production of a script by Huntington Playwriting Fellow Ronan Noone.
Bedlam’s Saint Joan by George Bernard Shaw. Directed by Eric Tucker. Presented by Underground Railway Theater at the Central Square Theatre, Cambridge, MA through February 8.
Bernard Shaw would no doubt see this quartet of actors taking on his historical epic as stirring expressions of the “Life Force.” “Four actors perform all 24 roles in Bedlam’s production of Saint Joan, declared “Irresistible! Ferocious!” and “A force of nature!” by the New York Times.”
Middletown by Will Eno. Directed by Curt Columbus. Staged by the Trinity Repertory Company in the Dowling Theatre at 201 Washington Street, Providence, RI, through February 22.
Playwright Will Eno’s acclaimed 2010 play is a “wry, bittersweet and achingly beautiful” look at small-town American living” that reveals “universal themes of love, birth, death, loneliness, elation, forgiveness, disappointment and redemption.”
Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, adapted by Sarah Ruhl. Directed by Nora Hussey. Staged by Wellesley Summer Theatre Company at the Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA, through February 2.
The Boston area premiere of Ruhl’s version of Virginia Woolf’s 1928 time-bending gender-bender novel. “Most of the text in the stage version comes directly from the novel,” wrote the New York Times critic of the New York production. “Woolf’s deliciously frolicsome tone, with the narrator merging the mock-serious voice of a sober biographer with a frank acknowledgment of the impossibility of teasing out truth from the mists of history, comes through with its bright, pealing wit.”
Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3) by Suzan Lori-Parks. Directed by Jo Bonney. A co-production between the American Repertory Theater and The Public Theater in New York, at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, MA, through March 1.
“A devastatingly beautiful new play set over the course of the Civil War” that impressed a number of New York theater critics. “A masterful new work from one of our most lyrical and powerful writers” — and at her best Suzan Lori-Parks lives up to the latter description — the drama “is a deeply personal epic about love and hope in a world of impossible choices.”
Kerplop! Tale of the Frog Prince. Directed & Conceived by Matthew Woods. Staged by imaginary beasts at the Boston Center for the Arts Plaza Black Box Theatre, Boston, MA, through February 7.
This inventive group “refashions another classic fairy tale into a fantasy of amphibious proportions… the classic Tale of the Frog Prince receives the full Panto treatment. Audiences of all ages will want to catch the fun!”
The Best Brothers by Daniel MacIvor. Directed by Charles Towers. Staged by the Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Lowell, MA, through February 1.
According to Canada’s The Globe & Mail in 2012, “Nova Scotian national treasure Daniel MacIvor’s latest, perhaps his most heartwarming and potentially crowd-pleasing comedy to date, concerns three brothers: serious Hamilton, who builds condos; flaky Kyle, who sells condos; and Enzo, who will tear a condo or any other dwelling to shreds with his teeth if you leave him unattended. The first two are human; the third, a mostly off-stage character, is an Italian greyhound.”
Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare. Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian. Staged by the Actors’ Shakespeare Project at the Multicultural Arts Center, Cambridge, MA, through February 1.
“Sex, power, and justice collide in a city on the edge” in what is being called a “timely” production of a tragicomedy where “society is going to hell in a hand-basket.” The angle here is specifically post-Ferguson, at least according to the director: “In Shakespeare’s Vienna, as in cities across America and the world in 2015, poor people, especially young poor people, are disproportionately targeted by law enforcement.” Arts Fuse review
Muckrakers by Zayd Dohrn. Directed by Bridget Kathleen O’Leary. Staged by New Repertory Theatre in the Black Box Theater at the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown, MA, through February 1.
Here is the dramatist on his script: it “is set in a private space (a bedroom in a tiny Brooklyn apartment) and depicts an intimate encounter (a one-night stand) between a fugitive European journalist and a young American activist. The two spend a long night drinking, fighting, having sex, and exposing one another’s dangerous and damaging secrets. And while the fourth wall between audience and stage remains unbroken, the transparency of that separation between public and private is in fact the central concern of the play.” Arts Fuse review
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang. Directed by Jessica Stone. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at the Boston University Theatre, Avenue of the Arts, Boston, MA, through February 1.
This Tony award-winning comedy is “a wickedly wonderful Chekhovian mashup that Newsday called ‘one of the funniest comedies Broadway has seen in seasons.'” This HTC production is dedicated to former Huntington Artistic Director Nicholas Martin, who passed away on April 30, 2014. Stone will stage the production based on Martin’s original Tony Award-nominated Broadway direction. Arts Fuse review.
A Future Perfect by Ken Urban. Directed by M. Bevin O’Gara. Staged by SpeakEasy Stage Company at the Boston Center for the Arts in the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion, Boston, MA, through February 7.
Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins by Margaret Engel & Allison Engel. Directed by Courtney O’Connor. Staged by the Lyric Stage Company, 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA, through January 31.
Karen MacDonald stars as Molly Ivins, “a dyed-in-the-wool liberal from deep in the heart of Texas … whose rapier wit made her one of America’s highest-regarded political columnists, satirists, and beloved rabble-rousers.” The one-woman show brings together “personal anecdotes with Molly’s unforgettable humor and wisdom, celebrating her courage and tenacity — even when a complacent America wasn’t listening.” Arts Fuse review
Echoes by N. Richard Nash. Staged by the Brown Box Theatre Project at Atlantic Wharf, 290 Congress St, Boston, MA, January 30 through February 8.
The company claims that this script is “thought-provoking and mind-bending,” qualities missing in most local theater, so it may be worth a look. Still, the plot sounds suspiciously routine: “a young man and woman build a paradise through imagination, only to have it shattered by the intrusion of the outside world.”
Breath & Imagination by Daniel Beatty. Directed by David Dower. Staged by Arts Emerson at the Paramount Center Main Stage, Boston, MA, January 27 through February 8.
Singer Roland Hayes is the subject of a musical play that chronicles “the amazing journey of this pioneer from the plantation in Georgia to singing before kings and queens in Europe and becoming the first African-American soloist to perform with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.” Elijah Rock reprises his star turn as Hayes, “for which he received the NAACP Theatre Award for Best Performer in 2014.”
— Bill Marx
Presented by the Cantata Singers
January 31, 8 p.m.
At the Houghton Chapel, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA
The Cantata Singers commemorate the 100th birthday of Rachmaninoff’s choral masterpiece with two performances. David Hoose conducts.
Julian Rachlin plays Prokofiev
Presented by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
January 29-31, 8 p.m. (1:30 p.m. on Friday)
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA
Violinist Rachlin returns to Symphony Hall as the soloist in Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto no. 2. Asher Fisch makes his BSO debut conducting Avner Dorman’s Astrolatry and Schumann’s “Spring” Symphony.
— Jonathan Blumhofer
The French Connection: Chamber Music
January 25 at 3 p.m.
At Fitzgerald Theater, on Cambridge Street between Felton and Ellery, Cambridge, MA
The Boston Chamber Music Society (violinist Jesse Mills, cellist Raman Ramakrishnan, pianist Randall Hodgkinson, and pianist Mihae Lee) performs a program that includes Fauré’s Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 120; Debussy/Ravel’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune for Piano Four Hands; Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue for Piano Four Hands; Ravel’s Piano Trio.
Violinist Stefan Jackiw and pianist Anna Polonksky
January 25 at 8 p.m.
At Seully Hall in Boston Conservatory, Boston, MA
The duo’s program includes Lutoslawski’s “Partita for violin and piano,” Saariaho’s “Nocturne for solo violin (in memoriam W. Lutoslawski),” and Schubert’s Sonata in A major for violin and piano.
Muir String Quartet
January 26 at 8 p.m.
Presented by the BU School of Music at the Tsai Performance Center, 685 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA
On the program: Leoš Janáček’s String Quartet No. 1 (‘Kreutzer Sonata’) and Charles Debussy’s String Quartet in G minor.
Borromeo String Quartet
January 27 at 7:30 p.m.
Presented by New England Conservatory at Jordan Hall, Boston, MA
“The concert is the Borromeo’s annual Guest Artist program in which NEC students selected by audition perform with the quartet.”
Scriabin: Complete Piano Sonatas
January 29 at 8 p.m.
Presented by New England Conservatory at NEC’s Williams Hall, Boston, MA
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the death of composer Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915). Scriabin’s music is heard today primarily at the keyboard — his ten piano sonatas and hundreds of preludes, etudes, and “poems,” many of them bearing titles, make up the bulk of his output. This concert features “a trip through all ten sonatas by this romantic visionary – a life journey from Op. 6 to 70, and the infamous White Mass and Black Mass.” Pianist Maria Lettberg, who has recorded all of the composer’s works for keyboard, wrote that “Scriabin’s music becomes accessible via a roundabout route but then it gets under your skin and intoxicates you like a drug, makes you euphoric, addicted and…happy.”
Music for Food
January 31 at 8 p.m.
Hall to be announced — in New England Conservatory, Boston, MA
$25 suggested donation/$10 for students; all proceeds benefit Food for Free
On the program: violinist Alexi Kenney, violist Kim Kashkashian, cellist Deborah Pae, and pianist Vivian Hornik Weilerstein perform John Harbison’s Piano Quartet; cellist Laurence Less and Tony Woodcock take on Beglarian’s Of Fables, Foibles, and Fancies for cello and narrator; violinist Don Weilerstein, violinist Alexi Kenney, violist Kim Kashkashian, violist Dimitri Murrath, and cellist Laurence Lesser will play Mendelssohn’s String Quintet No. 1 in A major, op. 18
Chameleon Arts Ensemble
January 31 at 8 p.m.
At First Church in Boston, 66 Marlborough St., Boston, MA
February 1 at 4 p.m.
At the Goethe-Institut, Boston, 170 Beacon Street, Boston, MA
This ambitious program of chamber music — entitled “bid them dance and bid them sing” — features: Lutoslawski’s Dance Preludes for clarinet and piano (1954); Joseph Phibbs’s Flex for flute, violin, cello, and piano; Sergei Prokofiev’s Quintet in G minor for oboe, clarinet, violin, viola and bass, Op. 39; Andrea Clearfield’s Neruda Songs for oboe and double bass; Dvořák’s Piano Quartet No. 2 in E-flat major, Op. 87.
January 31 at 8 p.m.
At the Lindsey Chapel in Emmanuel Church, 15 Newbury Street, Boston, MA
February 1 at 4 p.m.
At the Eliot Church, Newton, MA
The program “SOUNDINGS (sit inside the chant)” includes Medieval chant by Hildegard von Bingen and Kassia, Renaissance sacred music by Raffaella Aleotti, and modern works inspired by chant composed by Stravinsky, Poulenc, Duruflé, Amelia LeClair, and Patricia Van Ness.”
— Susan Miron
Strings Theory Trio
January 28, 7:30 p.m.
David Friend Recital Hall, Boston, MA
Violinist Mimi Rabson has long been one of Boston’s most valuable players. She’s at the hub of the Strings Theory Trio, playing “directed improvisation” with fellow five-string violinist Helen Sherrah-Davies and cellist Junko Fujiwara, celebrating the release of a new CD. (David Friend Recital Hall is at Berklee College of Music.)
January 28, 9 p.m.
Ryles Jazz Club, Cambridge, MA
The always-compelling Uruguayan pianist-composer Nando Michelin embarks on a new flamenco project, joined by Jordanian violinist Layth Sidiq, Palestinian cellist Naseem Alatrash, bassist Rob Taylor, Brazilian percussionist Rogerio Bocatto, and Michelin’s son Tiago on drums.
January 29, 8 p.m.
Ryles Jazz Club, Cambridge, MA
Pan-stylistic string band Esthema (oud, bouzouki, violin, cello, guitar, bass, drums and percussion) celebrates the release of their latest CD of original compositions, Long Goodbye.
January 29, 8 p.m.
Sanders Theatre, Cambridge, MA
Branford Marsalis has grown from an adept, sensitive technician into an artist of exploratory depth and breadth. His latest is In My Solitude: Live at Grace Cathedral (Marsalis Music/Okeh), a solo saxophone concert in which he plays originals and standards, spontaneous improvisations, and pieces by C.P.E. Bach and Steve Lacy. In this Celebrity Series of Boston concert, he fronts his quartet, with pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Russell Hall, and drummer Rudy Royston.
January 29, 8 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA
Pianist and composer Ara Sarkissian has been applying jazz orchestration and improvisation to Armenian folk music in this ensemble since 2007, deploying some of the finest jazz and international players on the Boston scene. Tonight he brings in guest violist Alex Vavilov for a debut of Sarkissian’s new “Soundtrack to an Imaginary Film.”
January 30 and 31, 8 p.m. + 10 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA
The dynamic 46-year-old trumpeter has been fronting some burning post-hard-bop bands of late. We’re guessing that’s what he’s bringing to Scullers.
February 4, 7:30 p.m.
Killian Hall, M.I.T., Cambridge, MA
The Scandinavian quintet Atomic joins Boston home team Matchbox for this double bill at M.I.T.’s comfy Killian Hall. Atomic is reed player Fredrik Ljungkvist, trumpeter Magnus Broo, pianist Håvard Wiik, bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, and drummer Hans Hulbœkmo. Matchbox is alto saxophonist Jorrit Dijkstra, pianist Pandelis Karayorgis, bassist Nate McBride, and drummer Curt Newton.
— Jon Garelick
House of Blues, Boston, MA
After having to postpone their fall trip to Boston, the electro-trio will hit the House of Blues this month. The band members are young, but they’ve already found success, including a prestigious Ivor Novello Award for their song “Stronger.”
Upcoming and On Sale…
George Clinton & Parliament/Funkadelic (2/14/2015, House of Blues); Gang of Four (3/6/2015, Paradise Rock Club); Will Butler (of Arcade Fire) (3/6/2015, TT the Bears); of Montreal (3/10/2015, Paradise Rock Club); Swervedriver (3/28/2015, The Sinclair); Carl Barat and the Jackals (3/28/2015, Brighton Music Hall); Belle and Sebastian (3/30/2015, House of Blues); Jeff Beck (4/19/2015, Orpheum Theatre); They Might Be Giants (4/23/2015, House of Blues); Crosby, Stills and Nash (5/19/2015, Citi Performing Arts Center); Boston Calling (featuring Beck, Pixies, My Morning Jacket) (5/22-24/2015, City Hall Plaza); The Who (5/24/2015, Mohegan Sun Arena); U2 (7/10, 11, 14, 15/2015, TD Garden); Foo Fighters (7/18-19/2015, Fenway Park); The Who (10/29/2015, TD Garden)
— Adam Ellsworth
Whipping Boy: The Forty-Year Search for My Twelve-Year-Old Bully
January 29 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, MA
The politics of bullying have been at the mainstream media forefront lately, which is a good thing for awkward youngsters everywhere. Bestselling author Kurzweil spent an epic length of time tracking down the bully from his younger days: the search took him far and wide and he met many eccentric characters along the way. In this book he tells the story of the “parallel lives” of victim and abuser.
Tasneem Zehra Husain
Only The Longest Threads
January 29 at 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner, MA
What happens when string theorists write fiction? This is not only the premise but the backstory for Husain’s new novel. The story takes place just after the first test of the Higgs-Boson experiment : one of the scientists involved in the project decides to try and communicate the experience of scientific research in a popular format.
In conversation with Christopher Lydon
I Think You’re Totally Wrong
January 30th at 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner, MA
The always-provocative David Shields sat down with the writer (and former student of his) Caleb Powell to discuss everything under the sun: literature, the life of a writer, marriage, family, careerism, inspiration, death. Luckily for us, the dialogue is filled with passionate and thorough disagreement. Shields will come to Brookline to debate these matters with WBUR’s Christopher Lydon.
A Replacement Life
February 2 at 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA
The Belarus-born writer makes his literary debut with the story of a struggling journalist who needs work bad enough to consider the unthinkable: helping to dream-up Holocaust-restitution claims for elderly Russian Jews in Brooklyn. In her Arts Fuse review of the novel, Roberta Silman wrote that we come away from the book with “a new understanding of what America means to these Russian immigrants whose cunning and sophistication often lead them into trouble, but whose good luck is that their plight is being recorded constantly in short stories and novels by their amazingly talented children. Among the best of them is the imaginative, funny, and thoughtful Boris Fishman.”
In conversation with Ethan Gilsdorf
February 3 at 7 p.m. (Doors open at 6:30)
Harvard Square Books, Cambridge, MA
The ever-popular novelist and columnist (and Wild screenwriter) comes to Cambridge to read and sign copies of his latest novel. Funny Girl tells the rambunctious story of Sophie Straw, an intrepid young woman who is transforms herself from provincial ingénue to television starlet. Her social climbing takes place amid an eccentric cast of characters that are part of the glittering landscape of ’60s London.
— Matt Hanson