Crime and Punishment, Elizabeth McCracken, Anne Lamott, Buddhists and much more...

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Mar 1, 2008 at 2:06 pm
elizabeth mccracken

Elizabeth McCracken

ART: THE CINCINNATI ART MUSEUM shows off Masterpiece Quilts from the Shelburne Museum. See Tamera Lenz Muente's review here.

ONSTAGE: SWEENEY TODD, Stephen Sondheim's dark musical about a murderous barber, continues at the Aronoff Center through March 2. See Rick Pender's review here.

ART: THE WESTON ART GALLERY hosts Nate Larson's intriguing new exhibition Miracle Pennies and Other Stories. See Selena Reder's review here.

ONSTAGE: CRIME AND PUNISHMENT Serious, attention-grabbing theater typically gives us great words and stories played by actors at the top of their craft. The best example onstage currently is Crime and Punishment, adapted by Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus, at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park's Shelterhouse Theater. The writers have distilled the essence of Dostoyevsky's masterful, massive novel about Raskolnikov, an arrogant intellectual who thinks he has a license for behavior beyond the norm. It leads him to two murders that he cannot morally reconcile.

Petrovich, a methodical police investigator whose psychological approach was innovative in the 19th century, relentlessly pursues him. Nick Cordileone plays Raskolnikov and John Campion is Petrovich. (Campion also plays the drunken father of a third character, Sonia. Three performers enact the entire story of Crime and Punishment.) Cordileone is a slight man; his eyes can glitter with intelligence, but more often they squeeze tightly, as if he feels physical pain. Campion gives the inspector a hearty, blustering exterior. He has no evidence, but he is driven by profound suspicion. Petrovich finds his way inside Raskolnikov's false bravado and eventually pieces together the crime. Their cat-and-mouse game makes this a riveting theatrical experience, just 85 minutes long. Highly recommended. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — Rick Pender

LITERARY: ELIZABETH MCCRACKEN Elizabeth McCracken (pictured above) is a fiend for the written word. So are the people over at the University of Cincinnati's English Department, which makes McCracken's visit to the campus on Thursday a perfect pairing. The Boston native is a onetime librarian who has parlayed her love of the literary life into a highly successful writing career. She's even married to an English novelist, Edward Carey. Best known for 1996 novel The Giant's House, a National Book Award finalist, McCracken's fiction teems with eccentric, delicately rendered characters and an uncommon ability to balance sadness with more absurdist tendencies. In keeping with her word junkie ways, she's also shared her gifts as an artist-in-residence at Skidmore College and as a faculty member at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she once was a student. McCracken reads from and discusses her work 7 p.m. Thursday in UC's Engineering Research Center Room 427. Free. (Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — Jason Gargano

LECTURES: PHOTOGRAPHER GREGORY CREWDSON The second of this year's Lightborne Lecture Series welcomes photographer Gregory Crewdson to the Cincinnati Art Museum. Each of his digital C-prints captivate in the strange mise-en-scene it provides. Most images have been planned and staged — much like Sandy Skoglund's work — in super-reality. Suitcases strewn about a room, clothing flopping out of them, draws an eerie dissection line from the nude woman mirrored in the space. Another image shows yet another empty, Hopper-esque streetscape with a long female figure. Everyone seems to be abandoning things in these pictures — especially drab, ordinary towns and suburban houses. Crewdson comes to Cincinnati from New York, where his photography is widely exhibited. I'm curious what he knows of the suburbs he censures in his pictures, being a Brooklynite by birth. Nonetheless, the images are striking, odd and deliciously disturbing. Next year the CAM will host the artist again, this time for an extended exhibition. Crewdson's free lecture beings at 7 p.m. No reservations required. (Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — Laura James

COMEDY: MIKE LUKAS Comedian Mike Lukas has been described as a one-man improv act. Not surprising when you consider he is an alumnus of the renowned Second City sketch/improv company. He has performed with the troupe in Chicago, various road companies as well as a Las Vegas production. In his stand-up act he uses characters, odd voices and even sound effects to bring his jokes to life. He covers everything from relationships to urban legends. "Have you heard about the guy losing his head on Space Mountain in Disneyland?" he asks an audience. "How does that happen? 'Wha-hoo no hands!' Boom! No head! Show off. What if you're working that ride? Some people take it very seriously. Someone loses their head on your ride, bad day at work!" Lukas performs Thursday-Sunday at Go Bananas in Montgomery. $8-$12. (Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — P.F. Wilson

MUSIC: SONS OF WILLIAM stop by the Southgate House. See Sound Advice preview here.

ONSTAGE: ROBIN HOOD OK, perhaps an outlaw is not exactly the best role model for kids. But Robin Hood and his Merry Men have several centuries of entertainment history — and at least good intentions of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. The Children's Theatre of Cincinnati has turned the tale into a rollicking musical by composer David Kisor and playwright Joseph McDonough (familiar to local audiences for a decade of holiday musicals at Ensemble Theatre). With tuneful songs and quick action, the story is told swiftly and enjoyably, perfect for young audiences. $7-$18. 7 p.m. Friday; 2 and 5 p.m. Saturday; and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Taft Theatre, Downtown. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — Rick Pender

EVENTS: UNDERNEATH CINCINNATI It's hard to believe that Underneath Cincinnati has been around seven years. The quarterly film festival has became something of a local institution — originally at SSNOVA and The Mockbee before moving to various venues — consistently offering up crafty independent short films and videos by area artists working in a variety of topics and techniques, all sure to be intriguing if not polished. And while the fest has been on hiatus lately — SOFA and Know Theatre are apparently set to revive it — the old magic returns 4 p.m. Saturday with the Underneath Cincinnati: Film & Video Festival Retrospective at Know Theatre's Underground bar space in Over-the-Rhine. We're not sure who's curating the three-hour extravaganza, but here's hoping at least one of Andre Hyland's hilarious, endearingly lo-fi concoctions makes the cut. Ah, the memories. $5. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — Jason Gargano

CLASSES: INTRODUCTION TO BUDDHISM Buddhism 101: compassion, bodhicitta, interdependence, karma, understanding suffering, rebirth, the three poisons, meditation and the nature of mind. What are all of these things from a Buddhist perspective? GSL Monastery (3046 Pavlova Drive, Groesbeck) will explain all this and more during a nine-week course called Introduction to Buddhism. Beginning March 1 through the end of April, students will have assignments, discussions and share experiences and learn how to incorporate Buddhist teachings into everyday life to achieve peace and happiness. No previous knowledge of Buddhism is necessary. A suggested donation of $75 is requested, but not required. Classes are 2-3 p.m. every Saturday in March and April. RSVP to 513-385-7116 or get more info at (Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — Margo Pierce

MUSIC: SLIGHTLY STOOPID plays for their rabid following at the 20th Century Theater in Oakley. See Sound Advice preview here.

MUSIC: SECRET CHIEFS 3 Like with his pervious band, Mr. Bungle, Trey Spruance makes the music of Avant-Garde ensemble Secret Chiefs 3 refreshingly hard to pin down to just a couple (or a dozen) genres. Though slightly less maniacal, SC3 is the perfect next step for Spruance, as well as for Mr. Bungle's fans from the '90s. Formed during Mr. B's run and featuring an ever-revolving lineup (the convoluted legend of the band says SC3 is actually an umbrella name for seven "sub-bands"), SC3 has grown from curious side-project to engaging, experimental juggernaut. Sautéed World music rhythms (from Arabic to Indian and beyond) blend with any number of tangents, including spurts of Death Metal and squiggly Surf Rock. It's New Age music for the ADD generation, alternately majestic, frightening and playful. Frequent collaborators of experimentalist king John Zorn, the group's latest CD, Xaphan: Book of Angels Volume 9, is a reworking of material from Zorn's Masada "songbook," a large collection of brief songs that were designed to be played by any collection of instrumentalists and use an overabundance of scales (just a few of the "rules" set up for the project, a la the film world's "Dogme 95" movement). The album is out in early April, but SC3 will no doubt be playing plenty of the compositions when it performs Sunday at the Southgate House. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — Mike Breen

MUSIC: KING REEVES, the local Jazz legend, does his thing at the Cincinnati Art Museum. See an interview here.

LITERARY: ANNE LAMOTT Anne Lamott is a waking oxymoron: She's a Christian and a liberal. She's also a writer, and as such she presents a unique point of view on modern life and spirituality. Her personal contrasts lead her to search for the divine in the everyday, and like her other books Plan B and Traveling Mercies, Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith aims to help individuals cultivate their own brand of spirituality. This collection of 23 essays searches through the mundane and the difficult to find strength and direction in a journey towards grace. She writes hopeful stories about flabby necks, teenage sons and death without being preachy. Lamott will sign her latest book at Borders Books and Music in Springdale at 7 p.m. Monday. (Get details and find nearby bars and restaurants here.) — Maija Zummo

MUSIC: BIG HEAD TODD AND THE MONSTERS, onetime MTV Buzz Bin staples, stop by the Madison Theater in Covington. See interview here.