Jasper loves going to the theatre. On rare occasions, he'll just show up and be surprised by what he gets. But most of the time, he does his homework. There are three shows opening in the city this week. One you should just show up for and have a good time. One you might want to do a little planning for. And another that you need to know what you're getting into so, you know, you can really get into it. Anything Goes, opening at Workshop Theatre on Friday night and running through October 1st, is like an ice cream sundae. You really just have to go for it. Other than knowing it's Cole Porter and how, like ice cream and chocolate syrup, it's brilliant in its simplicity, you don't need to over-analyze it. Just have fun. And, given that Cindy Flach is directing it, yeah, you will have fun. Flach has a way, not only with execution, but with space. Her shows conjure up words like pizzazz, and sizzle, and flare. She's another one of Columbia's treasures who asks for little attention, but always gets the job done and gets it done well.
On Wednesday night, in some wild configuration of the Trustus Black Box and Late Night series, our boy Larry Hembree opens Randall David Cook's play, Third Finger, Left Hand. The show plays Wednesday nights at 7:30 and Friday and Saturday nights at 11, for two weeks. Cook is a hometown boy who has done well so, in our book, that would be reason enough to go out and support this show with your patronage. But there's more -- well, first of all, you know Larry Hembree and the kind of weird and magical spells he tends to put on a stage, so, there's that. But the bottom line is that the play has been described as both "Southern gothic" and "twisted" -- terms that makes Jasper's pulse absolutely race. (Jasper likes weird -- why hide it?) But here's the thing -- Cook and Hembree are also presenting a little bonus, next Tuesday the 20th, when they give a staged reading of another little something from Cook's box of tricks, a play called Southern Discomfort. In an effort to construct something of a study of Cook's work, we'll be seeing both the reading and the play next week. Then we're going to sit down and decide what we really think of Cook's work and talk about it. We invite our lovely readers to join us in this online discussion next week. Come back here -- right here -- and share your comments below. We look forward to getting your views.
Finally, a third play opens this week that already has us wiggling in our seats. We've never seen David Mamet's Oleanna, but we've seen David Mamet's Race (with David Spade) and his Glengarry, Glen Ross (with Alan Alda), and we've seen his films, Wag the Dog, The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Verdict, to name just a few. So we know that when David Mamet writes for us, we have to prepare ourselves to be receptive. Mamet's use of language and delivery (called "Mamet speak") is unique and edgy and a little scary. Rather than enjoying a little vino or a draught of bourbon before a Mamet play, we recommend you dose up on caffeine -- not to help you stay awake, but rather to help you keep up. Mamet is unrelenting. That said, the subject of Oleanna is sexual harassment in the academy. A subject far too serious to trivialize or present solely for entertainment value. Mamet doesn't - it will be interesting to see what director, Ait Federolf, a senior in the department of theatre at USC, does with his production. It opens at the USC Lab Theatre on Thursday night, the 15th -- but you'll be busy then attending the Jasper Magazine Launch Party at Speakeasy -- and only runs until the 18th. All shows are at 8 pm and cost $5 -- with tickets available only at the door.
For more information on all three plays, visit the following websites or addresses respectively:
Anything Goes - workshoptheatre.com/11-12season_AnythingGoes.html
Third Finger, Left Hand - Trustus.org
Oleanna - firstname.lastname@example.org
Jasper Magazine - The Word on Columbia Arts
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