On the Townsend

By John Townsend April 8, 2010

Categories: Arts & Culture, Our Scene

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The Iron Ring
Through Apr. 10
Children’s Theatre Co., 2400 3rd Ave. S., Mpls.
(612) 871-0400
www.childrenstheatre.org

Director Peter Brosius and Children’s Theatre Company score an artistic breakthrough with a majestic staging of material drawn from Hindu epics. Young ruler Tamar (Reed Sigmund) is tricked into a perilous odyssey that makes him conscious of deceit, injustice, human suffering, and oneness with nature. A sparkling cast and choreographer Renee Ramaswamy’s mesmerizing dancers keep us guessing about who can be trusted and who cannot. A bewitching scene involving outcast corpses lifts things to an utterly mystical level.

Women Without Men
Apr. 16-17
Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave., Mpls. (612) 375-7600
www.walkerart.org

Filmmaker Shirin Neshat—in a beguiling nightmare vision of Iran when the 1953 CIA-backed coup toppled Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in order to install the Shah—observes a group of women who take healing refuge in a villa near Tehran. The viewer isn’t sure what’s real and what’s surreal at times, giving the weird impression that as societies collapse, the nature of space and reality actually shifts. Tragic notions of a prostitute whose soul seems to have left her body and of conservative Muslims becoming rabidly anticommunist make for a provocative masterwork. The film was a Venice Film Fest Silver Lion Winner.

How to Make Love Like a Minnesotan III: The Full Montevideo
Through Apr. 24
Brave New Workshop, 2605 Hennepin Ave., Mpls.
(612) 332-6620
www.bravenewworkshop.org

It’s the best Brave New Workshop revue in years, and maybe the company’s best sexuality inquiry ever. Director Caleb McEwen’s marvelous cast crisply sidesteps juvenile giddiness over sex, so you walk out delighted and more sexually aware. Lauren Anderson and Ellie Heino are rip-roaring as two aging gal pals who’ve replaced sex with food. Josh Eakright and Bobby Gardner crackle with studly insight—rather than man-crush cheap shots—as two athletes whose machismo is triggered by mutual homoromantic attraction. The cast exquisitely wrote the piece.

Big River
Through Apr. 25
Illusion Theater, 528 Hennepin Ave., Mpls. (612) 339-4944
www.aboutmmt.org

The Mighty Mississippi has been rambunctious this spring, so let’s honor the river’s emblematic Mark Twain narrative, Huckleberry Finn, whose musical version, Big River, won seven 1985 Tonys.
Minneapolis Musical Theatre Director Steven Meerdink says, “It is truly beautiful to watch the story unfold, as Huck [Andrew Newman] and Jim [Reginald Haney] learn how much they have in common, and how much they actually understand one another. This message of discovery, acceptance, and understanding can be applied to any time period and to a multitude of situations. Huck learns to accept Jim as a person, not a slave.”

The House of Bernarda Alba
Through Apr. 25
Steppingstone Theatre, 55 N. Victoria St.,
St. Paul
(800) 838-3006
www.brownpapertickets.com

This play is acclaimed as gay playwright Federico Garcia Lorca’s greatest. Teatro del Pueblo and Pangea World Theater are reviving it. The house in the play is known as a metaphor for fascist dictator Francisco Franco’s Spain. Though it was written in 1935 for an all-female cast, innovative Laurie Carlos directs Paulino Brener in a crossgender turn as Poncia. Tinne Rosenmeier plays tyrannical Bernarda.
Carlos calls Poncia “the sturdy housekeeper of Bernarda’s abode. She has a powerful presence in the house, although she works in a very different way than Bernarda. As Laurie has said to me, ‘It’s all about the energy you bring to the stage.’”

Medea
Through Apr. 25
Lowry Lab, 350 St. Peter St., St. Paul
(612) 721-1186
www.theatreunbound.com

The 600-year-old Noh and the 400-year-old Kabuki traditions are directed in this production by experts in both: Kathy Welch (for her Green T troupe) and the feminist Theatre Unbound. Ironically, men historically have dominated both traditions, even though women invented Kabuki. Carol Sogenfrei’s script adds modern dance, Chinese opera, and Greek theatricality to reshape this grisly tale of the archetypal murderous mother.
Welch explains that the Noh structure “allows us to observe the myth through a misty veil of memories, unearthing new perspectives and new motivations for Medea’s actions.”

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