Agenda: The Week’s Recommended Events

THURSDAY, OCT. 3

Martin Short

The old-fashioned Broadway notion of a triple threat (sings, dances, acts) doesn’t do justice to Martin Short, who was born too late for the postwar stage. Instead, on SCTV in the ’80s, he created deliriously demented showbiz characters who might’ve been Broadway stars—if only in their own delusional minds. Chief among them is the albino entertainer Jackie Rogers Jr. (always hindered by that Jr.! never getting the respect he deserves!), an affectionate riff on Sammy Davis Jr., but also a bizarre expression of show-business psychosis—what all those pills and hookers and years of headlining in Vegas will do to a man. They take a toll! Yet Short is a survivor of a different sort. His four decades in the game—including a stint on Saturday Night Live, two dozen movies, and a Tony for Little Me—have made him one of the most beloved and revered figures in the industry. (“The funniest guy I know”—Larry David. “I’m a Marty addict”—Tom Hanks.) He’s boundlessly enthusiastic onstage, and that zest informs characters like Jiminy Glick and Ed Grimley. He’s also one of the best talk-show guests in TV history, though tonight he’ll be turning the tables to invite audience members onstage. Consider yourself lucky to attend, luckier if called. The Paramount, 911 Pine St., 877-784-4849, stgpresents.org. $41–$71. 8 p.m.

Robin Crookall

Robin Crookall’s basement looks like a scene out of Jumanji. Large dioramas of empty museums and stark, empty hallways fill every table. On a corner shelf are eerily realistic miniatures of dinosaur skeletons, foxes, and horses. Preparing for tonight’s opening of Wear the Fox Hat, the artist says, “I get great joy out of the trickery. I love when people think my photos are of real animals.” She explains that the show’s title is a play on the question most often asked about her about her diorama photos: Where the fuck’s that? The confusion is testament to Crookall’s craft. Trained at the UW, she uses her skill with modeling clay and armature to create her incredibly detailed bestiaries. Then she photographs her miniature natural-history-museum scenes, carefully controlling the lighting to make things appear hyperrealistic. “I loved animals as a kid,” she says, “but I got to college and was told I couldn’t make anything cute. So I figured out how to get animals in my work without being cute. My work is about futility. It’s funny that man had to figure out this way to create nature and put it in a room, or make special spots on the sidewalk to put trees. My work is sort of me saying, ‘Hey look, isn’t this ridiculous?’ ” (Through Oct. 31.) Gallery4Culture, 101 Prefontaine Place S. (Tashiro Kaplan Building), 296-7580, 4culture.org. Free. Reception 6–8 p.m.

Axis Dance Company

The work that Judith Smith and her crew of mixed-ability movement artists present is the opposite of what critic Arlene Croce has called “victim art.” The goal is to make compelling choreography for the variety of performers in the ensemble, whatever their skills and limitations. With this work they create a new definition of virtuosity, one that is less about physical perfection and more about functioning at the extremes. The tools that are often tokens of disability in our culture—wheelchairs, crutches, prosthetics—are valued as much for their kinetic potential as for their traditional uses. They extend possibilities for the artists using them, no matter who they are. The company will perform three works: Full of Words, The Narrowing, and What if Would You. (Through Sun.) Meany Hall (UW campus), 543-4880, uwworldseries.org. $39–$44. 8 p.m.

FRIDAY, OCT. 4

Sugar Daddies

It’s noteworthy when ACT gets to stage the U.S. premiere of the British hit Sugar Daddies, and even more so when its prolific author, Sir Alan Ayckbourn, comes to Seattle to direct the 2003 play. It’s not quite a comedy, though the setup might suggest mirth: Sasha (Emily Chisholm) saves a sidewalk Santa from a hit-and-run, then unwisely invites him home. But Val (Sean G. Griffin) is not what he seems. Yes, he bestows gifts upon Sasha (hence the play’s name), yet his largesse carries an ominous expectation. If a younger woman accepts the financial generosity of an older man, should she be surprised at his leer? Sasha is naive, and her sister (Elinor Gunn) warns her about the possible sexual repercussions. Yet even then Ayckbourn avoids the obvious conclusion to such awkward negotiations. Terms and favors are cast back and forth, and Val’s investment yields an unexpected reward. (Previews begin tonight; opens Oct. 10; runs through Nov. 3.) ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., 292-7676, acttheatre.org. $41 and up. 8 p.m.

L’Avventura

Booed at the Cannes Film Festival, praised by Pauline Kael as the best movie of 1960, running 143 ennui-filled minutes, Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Avventura is one of those art films both esteemed and often paused on DVD. (You need a break from the desolation; maybe take the dog for a walk.) On the remote Mediterranean island where Anna (Lea Massari) goes missing, the long, slow search for her is hypnotically beautiful in the widescreen compositions of cinematographer Aldo Scavarda. And the searchers (Gabriel Ferenzetti and Monica Vitti) are no less elegant as they survey the eerie, volcanic landscape. The looming sky and hostile terrain push Sandro and Claudia together—less out of love than as a kind of mutual protection, a defense against the pitiless elements (or whatever has taken Anna away). Is she dead? Did she flee on another yacht? L’Avventura is a different kind of mystery than that. The movie’s famously long shots go beyond mere tension and into the abyss—their duration suggests time on an almost geologic scale. If Anna isn’t dead already, she, Sandro, Claudia, and we filmgoers soon will be; our lives are but a flicker in the cosmic scheme of things. Part of its power is that L’Avventura refuses to reassure you. Sandro and Claudia must eventually go back to their idle, rich existence on shore; their search for Anna might seem to give meaning or “adventure” to their lives, but eventually it has to be abandoned, along with hope. (Through Thurs.) Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 267-5380, nwfilmforum.org. $6–$10. 7 p.m.

 
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