Weekend Roundup: Silly theater and a silly movie

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.

Did the snow keep you from your wild adventures in Philly last weekend? Well, it did for us. Despite the SEPTA customer service line’s insistence that the trains were “out there,” they weren’t. So you can make up for it this weekend, before you have to dive into midterm stress. Or not. Some of us have only one midterm. And it’s a take-home.

“Catch me a half-witted cab, you hansom fool!” This weekend, the Temple University Theater Department presents Tom Stoppard’s farce “On the Razzle,” which possibly contains more silly puns per minute than any other theater piece we have ever seen. It’s loosely adapted from Johann Nestroy’s “Einen Jux will er sich machen,” which loosely translates as “He Would Like to Go Out on a Fling.” Two shop assistants are left alone as their boss goes off for they day, and they decide a few wild hijinks in Vienna are the only option for the afternoon. Beyond the extraordinary linguistic gymnastics, kept under control by the student cast, the production is quite nice visually as well. It is staged in the round, with an inventive collection of set pieces to suggest the play’s ridiculous number of settings (it makes up for this by having a ridiculous number of characters as well). The high point of the play is unquestionably the most agile and mobile box hedge you will ever see, in an inspired moment that does not appear in the script. The theater is a short walk from the R3 station beyond Market East, see http://www.temple.edu/theater for more information.

Several interesting new movies are coming out this weekend. To fulfill our promise to not write exclusively about classical music (hey, we can’t help it, it’s our major), we’re going to mention “Neil Young: Heart of Gold,” a concert film directed by Jonathan Demme. The concert mostly contains songs from Young’s recent album, “Prairie Wind,” which the Philadelphia Inquirer says erases any remaining border between country, folk, grunge and rock – not to mention that between the United States and Young’s native Canada.” That wasn’t the silly one mentioned in the headline. That would be “Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story,” a movie that sounds like the most meta-fun to be had since “Adaptation.” A film about a (fictional) attempt to film the “unfilmable” book–referred to as “postmodern before there was any modern to be post”–it is directed by Michael Winterbottom and stars Steve Coogan as Shandy, Shandy’s father, and a testy actor named, yes, Steve Coogan. The New York Times called it a “sly and sophisticated tour de force.” Both movies are at the Ritz, see http://www.ritzfilmbill.com for more information.

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