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Well hello again, Weekenders!
April may be the cruelest month, but May is far and away the flakiest. It may warm up. It may very well not. It may even snow, just to mess with you. Make up your mind, May! (Or just turn into June already.)
As you may be able to tell, I like my months like I like my weekends: well-planned.
So as we head into this annual May-lstrom of uncertainty, allow this newsletter to give you some crucial bearings, at least through the weekend. We’ve got a festival of funny women, art of mythological proportions, masters of modern dance, and the Gold Dust Orphans. It’s an amazing weekend out there. All you have to do is show up.
PAIR SHAPED: “Long Shot,” the new romantic-ish comedy starring Charlize Theron (as a steely secretary of state) and Seth Rogen (as a Rogenesque journalist), is what it says on the tin: a highly unlikely and occasionally “demented wish-fulfillment fantasy” that may necessitate “a set of industrial-strength bungee cords to suspend your disbelief,” according to Globe film critic Ty Burr (who still tosses it three stars). “The movie’s foundational joke,” he writes, “that a twosome this radically mismatched somehow belong together, never quite squares. If you can squint past that, you stand to enjoy the movie. I did, mostly.” Now screening.
FANTASTIC FOUR: Elsewhere in long shots is Rachel Lears’s new documentary “Knock Down the House,” which follows four women who ran in the 2018 midterm Democratic primaries: Senate candidate Paula Jean Swearengin of West Virginia, and Congressional candidates Cori Bush of Missouri, Amy Vilela of Nevada, and currently serving Representative and breakout star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. “ ‘Knock Down the House,’ ” writes reviewer Peter Keough in his 3½-star review, “might prove to be as much a snapshot of a political turning point as Robert Drew’s ‘Primary’ . . . or Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker’s ‘The War Room.’ ” Now screening.
RISING LAUGHS: And speaking of women taking shots, it’s the Women In Comedy Festival! “In its 10th year,” writes Nick A. Zaino III, “the festival has now been around long enough that performers who were just starting out in some of its earlier incarnations are coming back as accomplished comedians to topline their own shows.” Like Jenny Zigrino, who first performed at the fest in 2009 and returns for Friday’s “The Boston Pops Present” show at the Brattle, and Bethany Van Delft, who’s been with the fest from the jump, opens for Phoebe Robinson of “2 Dope Queens” on Friday at the Wilbur, and hosts her own string of showcases for comedians of color. Zaino has a whole roundup of better-catch sets and performances all over Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville through the weekend, but you can find tickets and the full schedule here.
BODIES OF WORK: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has come a long way in its six decades redefining modern dance. (For one thing, they no longer all fit in a station wagon.) Through Sunday at the Boch Center Wang Theatre, you can catch the company’s 60th-anniversary tour, which writer Karen Campbell says “will honor the legendary Ailey’s legacy with five programs that encompass new commissions and historical treasures” — including “Timeless Ailey” a special Saturday matinee survey of highlights from the choreographer’s 30-year career. If you’ve never seen them: Get a move on! Tickets and showtimes here.
MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE: The artist Trenton Doyle Hancock has spent two decades imagining and constructing the ever-expanding mythology of “the Moundverse” — what he describes as “an interconnected latticework of characters and consequences” that takes the form of a massive, carnivalesque installation at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams. “The vast scale of the space would be a challenge,” writes Globe art critic Murray Whyte, “for any artist who hadn’t spent the last several decades building out a distinct parallel reality. But in his hands, the big brick box, with its three-story-high ceilings, really just feels kind of homey, if your home had opened a direct channel to a dimension where all the 1980s Saturday morning cartoons and science fiction had gone to be melted into slag.” It’s the clearest (and most colossal) realization of Hancock’s universe yet — and you could spend the whole weekend getting lost in it. Through December (at least); find more information here.
KICK STARTER: Onstage this week, you can catch poet-performer Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s “/peh-LO-tah/,” billed as both “a futbol framed freedom suite” and “a love letter to black culture, soccer, and the beautiful rhythms of life.” (As plays from the pitch go, it’s a far cry from “The Wolves.”) A mix of sounds from samba to hip-hop accompany fleet-footed choreography celebrating “the only game the entire world can agree to play together” while dissecting the “discrepancies of a game that promises freedom yet suffers from racial inequities.” The ArtsEmerson presentation is up through Sunday at the Emerson Paramount Center. Score tickets here. No cleats in the theater, please.
LAB WORK: Ryan Landry and his unstoppable spoof-troupe, the Gold Dust Orphans, have been campifying the classics for over two decades; and while their home stage — sometimes known as the Ramrod Center for the Performing Arts, sometimes known as Machine — sits on the chopping block to make room for fancy private dorms and (we hope) a suitable replacement Orphanage, you can still soak up the unique terrois of the joint at the Orphans’ spring musical, “The Ebonic Woman.” According to writer Terry Byrne, it tells the tale of “a scientist named Hennessy Brown (Qya Marie), who has created a serum called Harmony that makes everyone color-blind, eliminating racism.” Are there snags and arch-enemies along the way? Sure. But if there’s one thing Landry and Co. specialize in, it’s a happy ending. At Machine through May 26; tickets here.
STRAUSS RELIEF: And lastly from outside your house, the Boston Symphony Orchestra is closing its season through Saturday with a program of Strauss, Stravinsky, the world premiere of Sebastian Currier’s “Aether” (featuring Latvian violinist Baiba Skride), and, with any luck, nobody’s phone. Andris Nelsons conducts. Find tickets here.
OR STAY IN! Starting Friday on Netflix, you can check out yet another dark comedy, “Dead to Me,” starring Christina Applegate as a newly widowed woman feeling out her weird new life, and her extra weird friendship with fellow widow Judy (Linda Cardellini). It’s a tear-jerker and a mind-screwer.
And speaking of dead to me, Adam Sandler (!!!) is hosting “Saturday Night Live” for the first time ever for some reason (with Shawn Mendes as musical guest). Will Opera Man make an appearance? What about Cajun Man? Or Canteen Boy? Or Herlihy Boy? You will have to let me know. (Although, actually, the Herlihy Boy is still pretty funny.) That’s Saturday, 11:30 p.m.
And that, dear Weekenders, may be all I’ve got for you this week. Just kidding, that’s really it. However you decide to spend your weekend (even if you flake), make it one you’ll miss come Monday.