Arts & Events

Theater Review: Central Works' 'Mesmeric Revelation' at the City Club

By Ken Bullock
Friday February 24, 2012 - 08:30:00 AM

Beneath a portrait of Marie Antoinette, patroness of the Royal French Academy of Sciences, sits an upright periwigged figure, long coat, embroidered vest, cravat ... The door of the salon opens—and another wigged figure, similarly dressed, steps in the room, as the first's head swivels to fix the second's eye with his gaze—and a tight smile blossoms on both faces ... -more-

"If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front" Can a Film about the ELF Win an Oscar?

By Gar Smith
Wednesday February 22, 2012 - 12:57:00 PM

This coming Sunday, the Motion Picture Academy will select its winner for Best Documentary. One of the selections, Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman's If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, offers a surprising take on the nature of "terrorism" and unearths the early roots of today's Occupy Movement. The documentary takes viewers inside the world of Daniel McGowan, an environmental activist whose zeal and frustration led him to commit acts that the media came to brand as "eco-terrorism." -more-

EYE FROM THE AISLE: Berkeley Rep’s Laugh Riot Doctor in Spite of His Hellzapoppin’ Self

By John A. McMullen II
Tuesday February 21, 2012 - 05:25:00 PM
Steven Epp and Julie Briskman (left) in A Doctor in Spite of Himself

I hate it when critics resort to telling the story, so let me just tease you with the opening premise:

so…there is this lowlife woodcutter who lives—well, in the woods—with his wife. The woodcutter spends his day whacking his wood in between taking a whack on Old Single Malt. Now, he and his wife are French Trailer Trash who go at each other like Punch and Judy. Actually, the characters spring to life from a most ingenious potty joke of a P & J show. Hell hath no fury, etc., so when a couple of strong-arm goons for the local rich guy comes by looking for the Renowned Healer who reputedly lives in the woods, Wifey sets up Woody by telling them he’s a doctor--and, beaten into it by the goons, he turns out be one in spite of himself. Of course, being French, it’s about amour, and how he brings the lovers together over the objections of the father, etc., etc.

It’s a 90-minute laugh riot, throwing in every modern reference they could muster, with lots of F-bombs, and a true hellzapoppin’ hoot-and-a-holler. “Vaudeville” (a French word) was originally a comedy that had new funny lyrics put to popular songs, and the singing here is phenomenal. Greg C. Powers and Robertson Witmer on accordion and tuba (a couple of laugh-provoking instruments in their own right) provide accompaniment. -more-

Eye from the Aisle: CCCT “Barefoot” in El Cerrito—dated fare

By John A. McMullen II
Tuesday February 21, 2012 - 08:08:00 PM
Ginny Wehrmeister and Joel Roster

CONTRA COSTA COMMUNITY THEATRE (CCCT) is a neat little theater with a very wide stage tucked back in the residential section of El Cerrito several blocks off San Pablo. I’ve not reviewed there before, but a theatre colleague suggested the current play, Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park. There is a small outbreak of Neil Simon going around the community theatres, and I am trying to build up an immunity by sampling them all. -more-