The best show I’ve seen lately — no question– is onstage only until November 2 at the Cutler Majestic: Luis Bravo’s FOREVER TANGO!!! We’re talking 14 gorgeous Tango dancers and an 11 piece orchestra. Theater? you ask. Absolutely! I say. The Argentinian tango– originally considered indecent, came out of the bordellos of Buenos Aires in the 19th century. The women are lithe, the men are intense, and they move in a tangle of arms and legs on a darkened stage, sensuously curling around each other in shimmering evening clothes; these are dances of life and death and sex and romance and passion and joy. The orchestra plays musical interludes–traditional and new– as well as accompanying these world class dancers as they smolder through a two hour show. You get your money’s worth and then some. Through November 2!
I remember once a long time ago when I first reported on a tango show that came to town, I asked one of the lead dancers to teach me a few steps that I could do on the spot for my live shot with him. He refused. I remember jokingly saying, “It’s not as if someone is going to die.” To which he solemnly glowered, “You never know.” He was right.
THE POWER OF DUFF over on the Huntington’s second stage at the Calderwood–is well-acted, but the play by Stephen Belber is slight. Charlie Duff (an excellent David Wilson Barnes) is a veteran newscaster who one day ends his broadcast with an impromptu prayer. His anchor desk soon becomes a pulpit and he a preacher of sorts, to whom the TV audience flocks night after night, expecting miracles. Jennifer Westfeldt does good work in an undercooked part as his co-anchor. (Attention director Peter Dubois: they need to properly dress their mikes– no newscaster would sit onset with the wire showing!). There’s a crass but articulate news director (Ben Cole) who only cares about ratings, and a loose cannon of a sportscaster (Brendan Griffin) with a dark secret beneath his jovial exterior. These last two are a but half step removed from cliches.
There is much subtext about “packaging” being more important than the actual human interest stories on the air. Much obvious fun is made of what passes for news in these smaller, local markets. Everyone including Duff’s angry 15 year old son (a touching Noah Galvin) speaks with the same voice– just a little too slick and hyper-articulate to be believed. Turns out, Duff needs to pay attention to his own personal human interest story– his tattered relationship with his family. Before the play is over, everything from aids, cancer, and Google, to religion, and world domination are referenced, but underneath all the elaborate speeches and hoo hah– The POWER OF DUFF is just another family drama after all– and not a particularly enlightening one. Through November 9th at the Huntington Theatre Co’s second stage at BCA’s The Calderwood Pavilion.