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Friday, August 10, 2012

Pop Sophocles and stormy Shakespeare: midsummer performing arts reviews

Posted By on 08.10.12 at 12:29 PM

White trash, extra crispy: The Great American Trailer Park Musical
Summer is officially half over. August 7 was the midpoint, which means that you've got less than 45 days left to enjoy the quirkier shows that tend to turn up when the weather gets hot. Here are the new Reader reviews to guide you.

Interrobang Theatre has brought back the clever solo piece Here Lies Henry, which won praise from Reader contributor Kerry Reid in 2011. Michael Moran reprises his role as a complete liar relating his obviously suspect life story. Another solo show, Daria Harper's Devil in the Dirt, presents the gripping, true tale of a woman who returns to the scene of the crime, as it were, when her abusive father dies.

A Greek chorus delivers pop verses in That Was It: The Tragic Tale of Our King Michael Jackson. Recasting the rex of pop as a Greek tragic hero, Gorilla Tango Theatre's high-energy comedy garners more laughs than Aristophanes's last stand-up routine. Also in the comic category: Finally Alone . . . Together, a double bill of solo sketch shows by Rebecca Sohn and Conner O'Malley, and Barack All Night, built on the premise that the commander in chief hosts his own late-night talk show. Of the latter Asher Klein writes, "Patrick Rowland has his POTUS impression down like a 2009 employment report"—but the show still isn't quite ready for prime time.

Two productions portray life in the American south, neither very flatteringly. Set in a strange little town in Texas, Sordid Lives has enough weird subplots to justify the name of the company staging it: Ludicrous Theatre. Meanwhile, The Great American Trailer Park Musical lays on gratingly obvious jokes about Florida trailer trash.

Offering a love triangle in a jungle during the 18th century,Savage Land sounds like a roaring bodice ripper. But Dan Jakes reports that it's a too-too serious drama, in fact, marred by "ham-fisted" metaphors and an incomprehensible plot. In Airline Miles, a lawyer and his client get into an awkward situation when the client's son turns out to be the lawyer's former lover. According to Justin Hayford, the production features nuanced acting but suffers from too many flashbacks and unnecessary scene changes.

Reader critic Tony Adler set out to review Julius Caesar, but alas: Muse of Fire Theatre's outdoor production got called on account of rain after 90 minutes. Next time, they should definitely try The Tempest.

Finally, dance and destiny meet in Thirty Thousand One, a new piece from Pursuit Productions about two people destined either to save or destroy the world. The production sadly wastes its fine choreography on "a naive tale lacking genuine characters and plot," says Laura Molzahn.

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