The Stillness of Certain Valleys

If you have a nose for power, drawing a deep inspirational breath from the approachable majesty of nature, the long view of history, and intriguing vagaries of human expression, can be a tricky business. Nonetheless, poet David Salner, thus nasally endowed, sallies forth undaunted. On  ...

The Virgin Trial

In the 16th century, a bungled kidnap attempt triggers a domino cascade that nearly foils the future of the teenager princess destined to become Queen Elizabeth I. How young Bess keeps her wits, not to mention her head, will keep you on the edge of your seat in the  ...

The Secrets We Kept

Q&A/Review by Paula Farmer They say inspiration can come from the most unlikeliest of places. For Lara Prescott, debut novelist of the recently released book, “The Secrets We Kept,” it was a room full of post-World War II typists working at the  ...

Mozart Dances

Mark Morris’ understated barefoot “Mozart Dances” (2006) launched the 2019-20 season for Cal Performances this weekend with three separate piano concertos that are superbly woven together. The first movement, choreographed for eight women titled “Eleven,” was danced to Mozart’s earliest piano concerto, No. 11 in F major, K. 413,  ...

A Play is a Poem

Here is the question:  What would you think if you saw “A Play is a Poem” and did not know it was written by Ethan Coen? If you had been living under a rock and had never heard of the Coen brothers? Or had you not seen any of  ...

Tijuana Cultural Center (CECUT)

The Tijuana [Mexico] Cultural Center merits a far more titillating acronym than CECUT! It stands out as one of my two favorite Tijuana institutions (the other being the Dance Conservatory of Mexico/Conservatorio de Danza de Mexico-CDM).  Built in 1982, CECUT sits just two kilometers from the U.S./Mexican border. Outside  ...

Ad Astra (2019)

Who could have guessed that the race for best actor at the Oscars would be between Brad Pitt and Brad Pitt? As unlikely as it might sound, it's true. The only thing this 55 year old performer can't seem to do these days is age. That was the case with  ...

Howard’s End

"Howards End," the stunning new production by Remy Bumppo Theatre, weaves together strands of three families. The wealthy and elite Wilcoxes—father, sons and daughter—the Schlegel sisters, who belong to the intellectual gentry, and poverty-stricken Leonard Bast and his wife. The script by Douglas Post, adapted from E.M.  ...

The Goldfinch (2019)

Life can be more than ups and downs, as "The Goldfinch" argues, it can be just downs. This drama/comedy means to create empathy in audiences by showing them so many depressing images that sympathy is the only response. But it's not. It's actually just depressing. To  ...