Smart Review: POST TRAUMATIC SUPER DELIGHTFUL

There are only two more chances to see Antonia Lassar’s rip-roaring, thought-provoking, solo-clown show Post Traumatic Super Delightful, at the New York Frigid Festival: Wednesday, March 4 at 5:30pm and Friday, March 6 at 8:30pm. See it! See it if you consider yourself a feminist, see it if you or someone you know identifies as a survivor of sexual assault, see it if you’re a college graduate. Lassar and director Angela Dumlao are using the power of theater to both educate audiences on an increasingly hot-button issue and offer a revolutionary way of discussing it: through laughter. Read my review below or over at TheatreIsEasy.com.

Post Traumatic Super Delightful

Antonia Lassar in ‘Post Traumatic Super Delightful.’ Photo by Kati Frazier.

BOTTOM LINE: Equal parts incisive and hysterical, Antonia Lassar’s one-woman show investigates sexual assault on college campuses using clowning and laughter as a means of healing.

Can sexual assault be funny? As one character in Antonia Lassar’s Post Traumatic Super Delightful points out, laughter “means connection with someone.” What better way, then, to cope with the lingering anguish of rape than finding a way to collectively laugh about it?

Lassar’s solo show, now playing at the Kraine Theater as part of the aptly named Frigid New York Festival, opens with a series of fart noises interrupting a tormented confession from a survivor. The scene invites you to laugh — in fact it dares you not to — just as the play later invites you to sympathize with an alleged rapist. Continue reading

Smart Review: JERSEY BOYS (The Movie)

Jersey Boys

Effie, Deena, and Lorrell sing “Dreamgirls”… I wish.

On some level it makes sense that Clint Eastwood, the ultimate cool straight white guy, would want to take a crack at directing a movie adaptation of Jersey Boys, the Broadway hit about four cool straight white guys. The grand story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons is one that exemplifies the American version of braggadocio, a stirring tale of hard knocks and success against all odds. Plus, guys get to shove each other and say things like, “Fuggedaboutit!”

Despite such inspired source material (Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice adapted their Tony-winning show for the big screen), not to mention some of the most recognizably catchy songs in the pop music canon, in Eastwood’s hands this jukebox movie musical is almost entirely off-key.

Valli’s astonishing voice, still regarded as one of the most original sounds in music history, should be the axle on which the entire film pivots. But the sound mixing is almost as choppy as Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach’s curiously erratic editing. Lighting and 50’s-era costumes, all whites and soft browns, practically glow with a high-budget sheen, yet no one seems willing to spend money on the kinds of tricks that make films like Chicago and Dreamgirls work – the all-important montage, for one, is forgotten – so the whole affair appears both amateurish and expensive.

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Smart Review: WHEN WE WERE YOUNG AND UNAFRAID

On the heels of the recent list of 46 plays by female playwrights released by the Kilroys, here is my review of Sarah Treem’s gripping new feminist play, When We Were Young and Unafraid. Read it below or over at Theatre Is Easy .com!

When We Were Young and Unafraid

Morgan Saylor, Zoe Kazan, Patch Darragh, and Cherry Jones in ‘When We Were Young and Unafraid’. Photo by Joan Marcus.

BOTTOM LINE: This riveting and fearsome new play takes on feminism, women’s expectations, and domestic abuse — and wins.

Our story begins with a familiar scene. A mother is teasing her high school daughter about prom. She’s not going, the daughter declares. It is 1972, not long before Roe v. Wade, and she is steeped in “women’s lib.” And then a bell chimes, suddenly and softly, and they hear a knock. The mother reveals a trapdoor under the living room rug, and our story truly begins.

The reveal that this modest home doubles as a hiding place for battered women is the first of many in When We Were Young and Unafraid, Sarah Treem’s striking new play at Manhattan Theatre Club. As fearless as its title, her writing personifies different facets of the most primal power dynamic in the history of mankind. (Or, I should say, womankind.)

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Oh My God: A Quick Primer on Lily Allen’s Game-Changing “Hard Out There”

If there were a line graph depicting 2013 pop music that somehow factored in internet buzz and outraged think-pieces, there would be significant upticks during the rise of Robin Thicke’s lecherous summer hit “Blurred Lines” and the MTV Video Music Awards, featuring an infamous latex bikini and foam finger. In those late summer months, the internet was a maelstrom of pearl-clutching moms, “she’s-just-being-Miley” plaudits, and everything in between. Regardless of how you feel about the twerk heard ’round the world, there’s no denying it thrust female sexuality, objectification, and artistic license into the cultural spotlight.

But just when the hubbub seemed to be dying down, and the backlash to the backlash had begun to fade, cheeky British diva Lily Allen emerged from hiding two days ago and the graph suddenly exploded:

Here’s everything you need to know right now about the response to “Hard Out Here.” Warning: exorbitant amount of morally outraged links ahead.

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Smart Reads: TV Writing, Dead Patriarchies, and Happiness vs. the Internet

Every once in a while I’ll be posting the stories and articles on the web that have piqued my interest, either because of their content or their spot-on writing. Since this is the first of many Smart Reads posts, there may be a couple links to dated (by today’s ADHD internet standards) pieces I’m catching up on. I’ve already mentioned my favorite internet writers, so you may see them quite a bit, but I’m also trying to expand my web-ertoire, if you will. Follow me on Twitter and send me fun stuff!

  • Mark Blankenship continues his hilarious venture into the fantasy genre, picking apart entire chunks of Game of Thrones. His euphoric TV-watching relationship with Daenerys perfectly voices the way I’ve always felt about her on the show.
  • The Atlantic has a straight-forward rundown of the most anticipated TV shows and movies of this fall. Its emphasis on rave reviews has convinced me we’re in for an excellent award season.
  • Homeland fans: Maureen Ryan has yet another thoughtful piece of television philosophy, pointing out the intriguing crossroads at which Homeland has found itself going into season 3. There’s also a great interview with producer Alex Gansa that reveals just enough about the coming season to make me vow to watch every episode as it airs.
  • Kat Stoeffel over at NYMag’s fabulous fashion blog The Cut has a snarky response to Hanna Rosin’s viral assertion that the patriarchy is dead. If you’re a feminist of any kind, it’s worth going through some of the ridiculous links in Stoeffel’s list.
  • Ryan O’Connell, the master of embarrassing, eloquent introspection, continues to explore shame and self-identity in an article that seems to draw upon all his previous ones about being in your 20s and getting out of your own way.
  • Rolling Stone talks to Matt Groening about his favorite moments from Futurama, which looks to be ending for good this time. Maybe it’s just because of my own devotion to that show’s style of humor, but I loved reliving many of those moments.
  • The New Yorker’s account of Facebook’s effects on our emotional health is an absolute must-read. Not only is social media psychology a fascinating and increasingly relevant issue, “the alienating nature of the Internet” has never been so plainly illustrated as a self-perpetuating cultural psychosis – and mostly a worrying one. If you can focus your attention long enough, go learn about the war for attention that is our Internet age.
  • I know this was a while ago, but Linda Holmes’ thesis statement on the seven ways to recap television shows should be textbook material for pop culture writers. It also contains so many links to some of the best recappers/journalists on the internet.