Through May 4 - Wittenberg at Aurora Theatre Company. The setting of this extremely clever play by David Davalos, performed in its Bay Area premiere at Aurora, is Prince Hamlet's senior year at Wittenberg University where he just happens to be auditing classes by Martin Luther and Dr. Faustus. Davalos has a lot of fun with the language of Shakespeare, and he stays true to the Bard by covering topics both spiritual and decidedly earthy. Hamlet is really a supporting character, with the real stars of the show Dan Hiatt's passionate straight man Luther and Michael Stevenson as the sly Faustus (who also just happens to dabble in pharmacological remedies and the new field of psychology). The pair's attempts to win the young Hamlet over to their respective views set the stage for the prince's struggles within his own play, and philosophical arguments have rarely been so entertaining as they are here.
I'm continuing to work my way through these awesome Famous Class LAMC split 7-inches and still loving everything I hear. On this one Ty Segall's heavy psych combo Fuzz delivers a thoroughly killer cover (and I don't even really like covers) of "Till the End of the Day" by the Kinks on the A-side, and then they tapped one of my fave local bands CCR Headcleaner for the B. More trip-tastic psychedelia than you can shake a stick at.
Through April 19 - Aidan Koch: Notes at City Limits. Though this was my first visit to the gallery City Limits has existed for a couple years now, first as a project operated out of artist/curator Evan Reiser's home in San Francisco and now as a beautiful light-filled space near Jack London Square in Oakland co-run by Alyssa Block. The gallery specifically encourages artists and curators to show work that is different than their usual practice, and in this case Aidan Koch has pushed beyond linear narrative into a mesmerizing stream of consciousness. Small drawings and paintings are arranged on a table's surface with ceramic sculptures placed on top, and her references include the human body, landscape and nature, and more abstracted forms. Koch has created a number of other lovely moments around the gallery space, and she also worked with Portland's Publication Studio to print an exhibition catalogue that contains images from the show as well as writings that serve as rough-hewn sketches in text:
Light shifting over the valley. The atmosphere flattening the hills and trees, denying depth, fog masking the colors: homogeneity of tone.
The trilogy of Daniel Craig Bond movies are a guilty pleasure of mine, and I have a series of coincidental associations with each one of them. For Skyfall I happened to be in Istanbul just as it was being released, and all anyone could still talk about there was what a pain it had been when they shot the (awesome) opening sequence in the Grand Bazaar. And then there was the couple in the hotel room next to mine who kept blasting the theme song by Adele over and over again, into the wee hours. Sam Mendes does a cracking job with Skyfall, and he keeps things interesting with plenty of inventive action sequences and and things going "boom!" plus a good old-fashioned shoot-out at the end. But the movie would be nothing without its sublime roster of actors: Daniel Craig, keeping things sexy; Javier Bardem, chewing scenery with abandon; Ben Whishaw, snappy and whip-smart as the new Q; and of course Judi Dench, elevating every scene she's in. Here's hoping that the rumors of Chiwetel Ejiofor as the next Bond villain turn out to be true too.
I just picked up a pile of these Famous Class LAMC split 7-inches, and every one of them is a gem. The act on the A-side picked what artist they wanted to see on the B-side, so in this case you get the absolute noise pop perfection that is Mikal Cronin's songwriting on one side and a blast of heavy psychedelic fuzz from the up-and-coming Wand on the B. Plus I am digging that dinosaur cover art so hard.