On the Townsend

By John Townsend March 29, 2010

Categories: Arts & Culture, Our Scene

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The Music Lovers / Through Mar. 27 / Playwrights’ Center, 2301 E. Franklin Ave., Mpls. / (800) 833-3006 / www.workhauscollective.org

Playwright/director Alan Berks has created a marvelous examination of sexual ambivalence and ambiguity, with a great lead performance by Nathan Christopher.

As an adolescent, Berks, observing aspiring rock stars, was fascinated by, in his words, “the intimacy they shared, the emotional and physical gentleness I observed between guys in bands, while at the same time seeing how vicious they could be to each other—how they could just totally undercut each other, while at the very same time they chased after any young woman they could. It all had a confused erotic charge.”
A Report on the Banality of Love / Through Mar. 28 / Jewish Community Center, 1978 Ford Pkwy., St. Paul / (651) 647-4315 / www.mnjewishtheatre.org

GLBT folks can relate to the closeted nature of the relationship between Jewish activist Hannah Arendt, author of Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, and her older lover, philosopher Martin Heidigger, a Nazi accomplice. Carolyn Jensen and Dan Hopman’s body language is too contemporary, but their grasp of the philosophical ideas and hot sensuality germane to Mario Diament’s terrific play translates onto the Jewish Community Center stage splendidly.


The Spanish Tragedy / Through Mar. 28 / Gremlin Theatre, 2400 University Ave. W., St. Paul / (612) 874-9321 / www.theatrprorata.org

Thomas Kyd’s violent 1592 classic still resonates today, as the news flashes reports of bombed civilians, beheadings, and hatred. Ironically, Kyd himself became a torture victim. Like his gay roommate and fellow spy, Christopher Marlowe, Kyd was hounded for suspected atheism. He died under murky circumstances at 35.

Director Carin Bratlie says, “Revenge tragedies were the blockbuster summer movies of their time. Audiences loved violence, blood revenge, and general weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.”

Macbeth / Through Apr. 3 / Guthrie Theater, 818 S. 2nd St., Mpls. / (612) 377-2224 / www.guthrietheater.org

Director Joe Dowling doesn’t stay put in the medieval context of Shakespeare’s grisly tragedy, yet still coheres a spellbinding staging with machine guns and rappelling fit for The Hurt Locker. Monica Frawley’s costumes recall the Hapsburg Empire. Erik Heger’s Macbeth brilliantly reveals gullibility, likeability, coarse stupidity, and cruelty. No other Lady Macbeth of the many I’ve seen reveals the colossal regret that Michelle O’Neill’s does, as the character realizes the depth of her wrong. Blazingly passionate, Heger and O’Neill expose marriage at its worst.

Gilberto Gil: The String Quartet / Apr. 3 / Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall, Mpls. / (612) 371-5656 / www.minnesotaorchestra.org

If you want to experience a dream while awake, witness mesmerizing Gilberto Gil—songwriter, vocalist, musician extraordinaire. Salsa and forró, which he heard as a boy in northeastern Brazil, were formative to his unique sound. He was central to the 1960s Tropicalismo arts movement, which challenged traditional music structures. Fingered by Brazil’s right wing, he became a political prisoner. After his release, time in London and Africa further influenced his eclectic style. Jacques Morelenbaum and Bem Gil accompany him in his Minneapolis performance.

Maria/Stuart / Apr. 9-25 / Red Eye Theater, 15 W. 14th St., Mpls. / (612) 870-0309 / www.redeyetheater.org

Core Red Eye actress Miriam Must plays Aunt Sylvia in Jason Grote’s play that oddly melds incest issues with both the 16th-Century Mary, Queen of Scots/Queen Elizabeth I of England rivalry and suburbia today.

Must explains that years ago, Sylvia “was committed to a state institution for insisting she saw and heard a strange shape-shifting figure, who everyone else claimed they could not see. She lives in a group home now, and believes because she has recently accepted Jesus into her heart, the shape-shifter can no longer appear to her in the flesh, so to speak, although it still sends her messages by fax.”

Metamorphosis / Apr. 8-May 1 / Open Eye Figure Theatre, 506 E. 24th St., Mpls. / (612) 724-3760 / www.franktheatre.org

We knew it was just a matter of time until expressionistically inclined Frank Theatre would tackle Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis. After all, so much of its past work has waxed “Kafkaesque.” Director Wendy Knox steers a company-made collaboration about a man who awakens one day to find he has become a “monstrous vermin.” She consulted classic expressionistic plays for aesthetic guidance.

Knox shares that when the cast first read the book aloud together, “They scrawled notes on Post-its about anything that struck them: questions, likes, dislikes, puzzlements.”

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