Weekend roundup: “I Am My Own Wife” and Gogol Bordello

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Doug Wright’s fascinating play, “I Am My Own Wife,” was written only a few years ago, but the current production by Philadelphia’s Wilma Theater reinvents it already. It is the story of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, an East German transvestite, collector of antique furniture, and gay bar owner (yes, in East Berlin) who had a surprising second career as a Stasi agent. The show was originally a one (male) actor show. The single actor embodied not only Charlotte but the voice of the playwright himself as he gets to know her, and 33 other characters. The Wilma’s production, directed by Blanka Zizka, splits the role into two; one actor primarily plays Charlotte and the other the playwright, which focuses the play on the relationship between the two. The artistic motivation is not quite clear- isn’t the point that one person could embody many contradictions? It does at least avoid comparison with Jefferson Mays’ astonishing and widely seen performance in the play’s New York incarnation, and according to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s review, remains an engaging work, though it loses much of its dramatic verve. Student tickets are available. Check http://www.wilmatheater.org for details.

This weekend’s music highlight passes the Weekend Roundup’s most important test: the band has a great name. They’re called Gogol Bordello, and are described by the Inquirer as “Brecht-Balkan punk,” with some reggae thrown in for good measure. Sounds sufficiently intellectual yet strange enough for Swatties. They’re playing the Theater of the Living Arts at 334 South Street (near Condom Kingdom) on Saturday at 9:00 p.m. Their most recent CD, “Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike” received great reviews, such as Pitchfork’s “they ooze [a] kind of stinky, trash-soaked, Greek-pizza-joint-coffee-tastin, Canal Street-on-a-high-summer-afternoon aroma.” And Ukrainian frontman Eugene Hutz, who recently played the, er, unique role of Alex in the film adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s frantic “Everything is Illuminated,” has “the best mustache in rock.” Tickets are a mere $12.

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