Ten years ago, Jennifer Westfeldt launched onto the independent film scene as the co-writer and star of the hilarious sleeper hit “Kissing Jessica Stein,” an edgy film about a straight woman who surprisingly finds herself embarking on a same-sex relationship. Westfeldt has it all: looks, wit, comic timing, dramatic skill and writing chops. It’s a delight to see her back in action in “Friends with Kids” — a tamer concept with more mainstream appeal, but with the same clever writing for smart people about smart people, that’s both funny and emotionally resonant. “Kissing Jessica Stein” launched Jon Hamm’s screen career by giving him his first substantial speaking part; here’s hoping “Friends with Kids” will bring Westfeldt into the mainstream.
On opening night of “Beauty and the Beast” the audience was filled with parents and their young daughters, many of whom were dressed as princesses. While this is an appropriate and fun musical for kids, with enduring music, it is based on an 18th-century fairytale and thus is a bit outdated. While it’s a story of inner beauty triumphing over outer beauty, it must be noted that the story requires that the beautiful woman, Belle, see past the bad looks and bad temper of the man, the Beast, and not the reverse. Would the story be so popular and believable if the gender roles were reversed? It’s the 21st century, so is it too much to ask for a tale about a beautiful man and an ugly woman with inner beauty where the man must see past her looks?
“Scorched” creeps up on you slowly, and before you know it, you find yourself simultaneously terrified, engrossed, impassioned and queasy. The play finds a jarring start in an elaborate set that doesn’t seem to belong in any particular place, where Simon (Babak Tafti) and Janine (Annie Purcell) make an uncomfortable visit to the notary Alphonse (David Strathairn, “Good Night and Good Luck”) to hear their mother’s will.
It goes without saying that when a concert involves bassist Dave Holland and saxophonist Chris Potter—in collaboration—it’s going to be good. Holland’s rhapsodic syncopated bass lines and Potter’s counterpoint cerebral, dissonant, rich sax are at their best live and always sound amazing, no matter who the two are playing with.
In “Shakespeare Wrote for Money,” Nick Hornby writes, “The annoying thing about reading is that you can never get the job done…reading begets reading—that’s sort of the point of it, surely?—and anybody who never deviates from a set list of books is intellectually dead anyway.”