The Weekender: Irish sojourns, Russian meltdowns, and ‘American Utopia’
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Is fearr Gaeilge briste, ná Béarla clíste!
Don’t be alarmed. No one spilled water on the Weekender’s motherboard. That’s just the Gaelic way to say “broken Irish is better than clever English” — which also seems like pretty clever Irish. Dizzy yet? Perfect, because it’s the St. Patrick’s Day edition of the Weekender! And in the true spirit of the day, we are wasting no time getting right into it. (Though we should probably at least eat some toast first. Something.)
FURY DUTY: Much like jury duty, attendance at a St. Patrick’s Day weekend Dropkick Murphys show is just a compulsory part of living in Boston. Every three years or so, you must show up, or provide valid documentation to the Bureau of Hey What’s Your Problem Pal providing valid reasons for your absence or (rarely granted) excusal. For those attending this weekend’s St. Patrick’s Day Clash (running through Sunday at the House of Blues), expect a sustained blast of bagpipes, power chords, dudes screaming “I [EXPLETIVE] LOVE YOU GUYS,” and insta-classics from the band’s ninth album, “11 Short Stories.” Expect some beer to be spilled on you — maybe even the band’s collaborative brew with Magic Hat! And if this time is anything like last time (it will be), expect “catharsis in togetherness, whatever punches the world may throw.” (Aw, that actually sounds kind of sweet!) Scattered tickets and resales are out there — including for Saturday’s one-two punch of acoustic Dropkicks and live boxing. Start hunting here.
ÉIRE APPARENT: For those with more delicate ears, sensibilities, and/or jaws, experience the softer, borderline downy side of St. Patrick’s day with Brian O’Donovan’s enduring annual celebration of the auld sod, “A St, Patrick's Day Celtic Sojourn.” This year’s lineup of musicians includes Open the Door for Three, Celtic harpist Maeve Gilchrist, Brenda Castles, and Keith Murphy, and you can certainly expect a fair share of traditional dancing that doubles as a way to keep warm. After stops in Foxborough and Beverly, the Sojourn sojourns into New Bedford on Friday for a performance at the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center, and on into Cambridge for a Saturday night finale at the Sanders Theatre at Harvard. Find tickets here.
SHOW OF FOURTH: Are you a MGMT fan? Or, more importantly, are you not a MGMT fan? I was firmly in that latter camp until “Little Dark Age” rolled in. Not the actual little dark age (which I’m estimating we’re about 20 years into right now), but the fourth album from the increasingly psych-liberated duo of Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden. It’s all over the place in a consistently delightful way. In the Globe, Ken Capobianco called it “uneasy music for uneasy times,” but also “challenging, compelling music because it seduces while defying formula and easy labeling.” (It’s also making the actual dark age a little easier to swallow.) On Friday, they come to the Orpheum Theatre with outre techno hero Matthew Dear. Go get ’em!
EAZY DOES IT: After a string of hits including “I Mean It,” “Me, Myself & I,” and “Good Life,” Oakland rapper G-Eazy is still getting his bearings atop his new heights. And his latest album, “The Beautiful & Damned,” takes an unflinching look at the wages of fame. “It looks beautiful from the outside looking in, but there’s also a dark side that comes with that if you’re not careful about overdoing it,” he recently told the Globe’s Isaac Feldberg. On that note, if you’re not careful about overdoing it, his Sunday night show at Agganis Arena will not help your hangover. Find tickets here.
FOOLS RUSSIAN: Ty Burr pins four shiny stars onto “The Death of Stalin,” praising the new film from Armando Iannucci (“Veep,” “In the Loop”) as “equal parts Monty Python and Preston Sturges.” The film is a chronicle of the passing of the titular totalitarian set in 1953 Moscow, but it’s also a scathing satire, “played as if it were British music-hall comedy or Hollywood screwball” and featuring fine performances from Steve Buscemi (Nikita Krushchev), Jeffrey Tambor (Georgy Malenkov), and Michael Palin (Vyacheslav Molotov), “Because life is provisional in a totalitarian state,” writes Burr, “because you can be dragged off and killed for no reason at any moment — logic becomes useless and survival becomes paramount. Iannucci understands that such contortions are ridiculous, especially at the top, and that laughing at them is a revolutionary act both liberating and necessary.” Opens Friday.
BOY INTERRUPTED: When I was a gay teen terrified of everyone and everything, I identified quite strongly with characters in films who found themselves invariably at odds with the world around them — even when they had super goth haircuts and scissors for hands. These days, LGBT youth have a far less figurative path to finding their place on the planet thanks to films like “Love, Simon,” director Greg Berlanti’s new adaptation of Becky Albertalli’s 2015 young adult novel “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.” Meredith Goldstein gives the film 3½ stars, calling it “a sweet, modern romantic comedy that manages to channel the teen movie classics of the late John Hughes, but only the good stuff. It’s also a deeply empathetic story about a teenager who’s forced to come out to a community of loved ones.” Nick Robinson, soon to be taped to the back of one in 10 gym lockers, is “perfect” as Simon; and what it lacks in the Winona department, it makes up for in heart. Opens Friday.
SWIPETH RIGHT: And while we’re at it with the love stories, Boston Ballet is reprising its renowned production of John Cranko’s 1962 vision of “Romeo & Juliet” (first premiered by the company in 2008) complete with Prokofiev’s score performed live. “Couple Shakespeare’s play with Sergei Prokofiev’s acerbic, doom-drenched score and you would be hard pressed to find a better ballet,” wrote the Globe’s Jeffrey Gantz in 2011. “Certainly you would be challenged to find a better production than the one Boston Ballet opened.” That’s up at the Boston Opera House through April 8. Find tickets here.
DOUBLE FEATURE: If you like your Shakespeare cut with a little Shaw and you’ve got five hours to kill, you’re gonna love this one. Through March 25, the fearless NYC troupe Bedlam brings its two-saga serving of Shaw’s “Saint Joan” and Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” to the Cutler Majestic Theatre. And if two big back-to-back dramas sound like a lot of work, just be glad you’re not onstage. Bedlam fills the 49 roles across the two plays with a cast of four actors — bedlam, indeed! “In their bravura fusion of versatility, dexterity, and clarity, they’re executing the verbal and intellectual equivalent of a Cirque du Soleil act,” writes Globe theater critic Don Aucoin. It’s presented by ArtsEmerson, and you can find tickets here.
CUBA LIBRE: Friday and Saturday offer a rare chance to experience the groundbreaking/floor-shaking Cuban dance company DanzAbierta. For this two-night World Music/CRASHarts presentation at the Institute of Contemporary Art, the troupe will perform the Boston premiere of “Malson,” a piece that blends film vignettes of Havana with dance and an original score by Afro-Cuban fusion composer X Alfonso. For those of you with questions (ideally nice, short ones that won’t make everyone else groan and wish your question was over), a free talk with Boston Dance Alliance Executive Director Debra Cash will take place 30 minutes prior to curtain in the ICA Café, and a free post-performance Q&A with the artists will follow Friday’s performance. More information and tickets here.
BRECHT IN EFFECT: And finally onstage this week is the James Darrah-directed revival of the monumental Brecht-Weill work “The Threepenny Opera” at the Boston Lyric Opera through March 25, starring a local favorite, soprano Kelly Kaduce. Expect an unexpected vision of Polly Peachum; as Zoe Madonna noted in her advance feature, “Kaduce’s photo shoot for the Globe had to be scheduled to avoid the rehearsal of a scene in which she plasters cake all over herself.” This does not mean you can bring cake. Find tickets here.
OR STAY IN! I still haven’t recovered from watching the Southie parade from my bedroom window and getting grazed by a bottle rocket, so the choice for me this weekend is clear. For those of you joining me on the couch, I plan on catching up on all those Oscar-winning documentaries I claimed to have already seen, all of which are available now.
And if those don’t bum you out enough, first of all, wow, and second, Globe sports media columnist Chad Finn recommends Oxygen’s two-part, four-hour documentary “Aaron Hernandez Uncovered,” as a “smart retelling of a familiar tragedy” minus the “exaggerated drama” that so often ushers TV crime-docs from one commercial break to the next.
Follow these downers with the upper of David Byrne’s latest album, “American Utopia,” which (after listening to it a little) may not be so much of an upper after all. (For that, try Byrne’s new website ReasonsToBeCheerful.world.)
And with that, dear Weekenders, this keg is tapped out. Be careful out there; things can get a little wooly, and not in the cozy cardigan kind of way. As the Irish say, “Is ait an mac an saol” — life is strange. (And, you know what? So is Gaelic.)
Until next time, make this a weekend you’ll miss come Monday. See you next week!