Magic Circle Theatre in Montrose
Summer theatre is thriving in this region. Telluride Theatre’s well-received Dinner with Dionysus has just ended, Shakespeare in the Park is done for another year, and the annual melodrama at the Wright Opera House has taken its turn. Now it’s time for autumn, and the Magic Circle Theatre welcomes the new season with its new season, its 54th consecutive theatre season to be exact, with just the thing to put you in the mood for chilly days ahead: The Game’s Afoot, an effervescent comedy by Ken Ludwig. It’s a whodunit, set in the 1930s during the Christmas holidays, about Broadway star William Gillette, beloved for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, who has welcomed his guests to his castle for a weekend of frivolity when one of the guests is stabbed to death. Gillette must don his alter-ego, Holmes, to track down the killer.
Though Game is set in 1936, in real life it has won some very contemporary plaudits, including the Mystery Writer’s Edgar Allen Poe Award for 1912. Playwright Ludwig is a veteran of six Broadway shows, and six in London’s West End; his work has been translated into 20 languages. In Montrose, Game is directed by Judy Wise, who commandeered Final Toast, another witty turn with Sherlock Holmes as the star, for Magic Circle two years ago. On Tuesday, Wise was busy hauling furniture to use as props into the theatre, and assistant director Margie Ferguson, who said she “jumped at the chance” to work with Wise when so invited, took a few moments to assess how far they’ve come – and how much they still have to do. “I think we’re a good match,” she said of her relationship with the director, “And it’s been a lot of fun so far. But now it’s to the point where we’re feeling the crunch. We’re almost there,” she added. “The set’s almost together, and the costumes” – hand-sewn, and authentic to the 1930s – “are mostly finished. Now all I have to do is sit back” – you half-expected her to say “relax” – “Cross my fingers, and hold my breath.” The Game’s Afoot plays Friday and Saturday nights from Sept. 6-Sept. 28. There are two Sunday matinees. Tickets go on sale after Labor Day. For more info., visit magiccircleplayers.com.
Films in Ouray and Montrose
After the Telluride Film Festival is over and the crowds have gone home, there’ll still be cinema worth seeing around here. It will cost less, and you can get in easier, and sure, you can almost certainly rent or stream these movies – but they are worth checking out on the big screen. The first shows next Wednesday in Ouray at the Wright Opera House. The Hunt stars Mads Mikkelsen as a kindergarten teacher accused of being a pedophile and whose life is coming apart. Mikkelsen has just the sort of craggy mien and cinematic reputation as a villain (he played James Bond’s archenemy in Casino Royale and is Hannibal Lecter on TV’s Hannibal) to make you believe he could be a very bad man, like the residents of the small town who persecute him do. He won a best actor award at Cannes in this role. “The movie suggests that the solidarity of the village’s condemnation is a measure of individual uncertainty. It’s a matter of finding safety in numbers,” wrote New York Times critic Stephen Holden. “Leaving a screening of The Hunt, I had the sense of making my way through a jungle crowded with other wild beasts, all of us on high alert.” The suffocating judgments make it painful to watch; Mikkelsen’s performance makes it worth it.
The second film is Hannah Arendt, a film by Margarethe von Trotta about the famous writer and philosopher (played by Barbara Sukowa) who coined the phrase “the banality of evil.” Arendt used that phrase in the title of a book she wrote about Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, whose trial she covered for The New Yorker. The film focuses on her coverage of the trial and the fallout – people accused Arendt of defending Eichmann, and criticism of her book dogged her for years – as well as her relationships with her greatest ally, Mary McCarthy, and her teacher and lover, the German philosopher Martin Heidegger. “It’s probably too much to hope that Ms. von Trotta and her star, Barbara Sukowa, will do for Hannah Arendt what Norah Ephron and Meryl Streep did for Julia Child, but surely a fellow can dream,” wrote the Times critic A.O. Scott. “And in a manner not altogether dissimilar to the way Julie & Julia mastered the art of French cooking, Hannah Arendt conveys the glamour, charisma and difficulty of a certain kind of German thought.” Hannah Arendt will be screened at the Fox Theatre in Montrose at noon on Sunday, Sept. 8. The Hunt plays at the Wright Opera House next Wednesday at 7 p.m.
And speaking of German thought…the esteemed German director Werner Herzog (see page 1) is not generally known for corporate videos, particularly ones financed by big companies like AT&T. Yet he’s made one, AT&T has paid for it, and it’s being distributed to more than 40,000 high schools nationwide. Its title is From One Second to the Next, and its subject is texting while driving – what happens when you do it. In this short film, Herzog speaks with, among others, the mother of a child who was paralyzed from the waist down after being hit by a driver texting at the wheel; the police; and with a man who struck an Amish family while he was texting. The 35-minute project has been described variously as haunting, harrowing, poetic and one that “must rank among the most moving views of the subject” (this from the Times). Herzog has remarked that he doesn’t text while he’s driving – or for that matter, text, period. “There’s a completely new culture out there,” the director has explained of his motivation to make this film, and “I see there’s something going on in civilization which is coming with great vehemence at us.” From One Second to the Next is part of AT&T’s It Can Wait public service campaign, and can be seen at itcanwait.com/videos.