On the Townsend

By John Townsend July 31, 2008

Categories: Arts & Culture, Our Scene

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Tipping the Bucket
Through Aug. 10
Rarig Center
Univ. of Minn.
330 21st Ave. S., Mpls.
(651) 209-6799
<www.fringefestival.org>

Spoken-word writer-performer and Baptist-turned-Catholic Allegra Lingo always gets beneath the surface of queer issues in a humorously human way. Her latest, Tipping the Bucket, looks at faith.

Lingo shares, “On a personal level, I believe that God made me. And I believe that being gay is not a choice. So, if being gay is not a choice, and God made me who I am, wouldn’t it be going against the gifts and blessings that He gave me to not accept being gay? Humans make mistakes. We are not infallible. Attitudes towards women, African-Americans, even left-handed people have changed from exclusion to acceptance over the years. I think that we as a human culture are still on that path of acceptance of homosexuality, and when it comes to an institution like the Catholic Church, it will just take a bit longer.”


The Bible: The Complete Works of God (Abridged)

Aug. 14-24
Lowry Theater
16 W. 5th St., St. Paul
(651) 290-2290
<www.actorsmn.org>

Actors Theater of Minnesota and Mystery Ranch Productions wax unorthodox with The Bible: The Complete Works of God (Abridged). It muses on “deep” theological questions like: Did Adam and Eve have navels?; and did Moses look like Charlton Heston? Though this spoof has a script, the actors interact with the audience, and spontaneously create new stage moments. Hence, much of what happens onstage is unpredictable to both actors and audience.

Actor Eric Webster, who has performed in the show before, notes, “It’s never the same twice, which is my favorite part. We, the performers, are never bored. Plus, the show makes me laugh, and in this format, I’m allowed to laugh onstage, which I love.”

The Government Inspector
Through Aug. 24
Guthrie Theater
818 S. 2nd St., Mpls.
(612) 377-2224
<www.guthrietheater.org>

When you see director Joe Dowling’s rollicking staging of The Government Inspector at the Guthrie, you’ll have a jolly good time. Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation is an utter cascade of whimsical satirical wit. Ann Hould-Ward’s overstated, vibrantly colorful costumes are hilariously historical. However, bear in mind that this comedy’s brutal attack on bribery and bureaucracy cost playwright Nikolai Gogol dearly. He caught hell from various Russian power brokers when it opened in 1836, even though Tsar Nicholas I actually liked it. Tragically, about a decade later, Gogol, seduced by fanatical Christianity, burned many of his manuscripts. In view of the recent death of former US Senator Jesse Helms, a right-wing Christian archhomophobe who attacked queer and other controversial artists, reflect on how comparable 19th Century forces victimized Gogol.

Cinema of Urgency
Through Aug. 28
Walker Art Center
1750 Hennepin Ave., Mpls.
(612) 375-7600
<www.walkerart.org>

Dean Otto, who curated the recent Queer Takes film series at Walker Art Center, has turned his attention to another cutting-edge series, Cinema of Urgency. This roster of new documentaries deals with pressing issues of justice, privatization of natural resources, access to information, and perceptions of Americans abroad.

Irena Salina’s Flow: For Love of Water (August 1-3) warns of the global shortage of clean drinking water, cautioning about water no longer being an accessible right but a commodity.

Peter Galison and Robb Moss have directed the reportedly chilling Secrecy (August 15-17), regarding which Otto says, “It evenhandedly deals with the growth of the gathering of intelligence through the FBI and the CIA, focusing on the period after World War II, and how it has affected the American psyche. It shows how leaked top-secret information has put Americans at risk, as well as how the lack of shared information also hurts us.”

Dominic Hayes and Joel Weber’s look at America’s suffering image, The Listening Project (August 28), closes the series.


Church Basement Ladies 2: A Second Helping

Ongoing
2705 Annapolis Ln. (I-494 and Hwy. 55), Plymouth
(763) 553-1600
<www.plymouthplayhouse.com>

This is perhaps the most surprisingly satisfying and touching show to come along this year. Church Basement Ladies 2: A Second Helping is superior to Part 1, because it dares to dig deeper. Playwright Greta Grosch ingeniously and subversively weaves notions of fertility throughout as a way of circumventing the prudery church ladies are prone to. But it’s done subtly, with respect and tenderness. We laugh out loud at Vivian’s disdain of sex and men, but we sense something tragic is underneath that. The piece is a breakthrough for director Curt Wollan, whose richly detailed actors manifest the tragicomic in a way that must be pleasing the ghost of Anton Chekhov. Drew Jansen and Dennis Curley’s music and lyrics also strike that poignancy-wit balance wonderfully. Janet Paone is in top ironic form as Vivian. Shannon Herman is an earthy delight as irreverent Mavis.

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