Things to Do

The Weekender: ‘Atomic Blonde,’ ‘American Moor,’ and a comic couple

Charlize Theron stars in “Atomic Blonde.”
Focus Features
Charlize Theron stars in “Atomic Blonde.”

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OK, admittedly, this was not the best week for people/ideas/earth. Everything seems under attack: our brave armed forces, our hard-won civil rights, your disgusting honey bran raisin muffin, innocent street vendors, and even more innocent newsletter writers who really seriously can’t even deal with Arcade Fire anymore (see below).

I think we may all just need to calm down for a couple days, take some deep breaths, focus on self-distraction from self-destruction, open our arms, and give this weekend (and maybe even each other) a big bear hug. It’s gonna be OK. I promise. Look, here comes Charlize Theron!

LADY KILLER: If you’re looking for a reason to go see the new Charlize Theron movie, just reread that last part: There is a new Charlize Theron movie. (All is forgiven since “Prometheus.”) “Atomic Blonde” finds the unstoppable Theron as an MI6 agent punching her way through 1989 Berlin, as depicted in Antony Johnston’s graphic novel series “The Coldest City.” As Ty Burr puts it in his three-star review, “The result is hardly a classic, but it’s a damn fine action movie.” It also seems to be trying to move in on my pun game, and if that is indeed the case: Charlize, you picked Theron guy to mess with. Opens Friday.

Natasha Leggero and Moshe Kasher are at the Wilbur Saturday night.
Pitch Perfect PR
Natasha Leggero and Moshe Kasher are at the Wilbur Saturday night.

COUPLE THINGS: You may recognize Natasha Leggero from Comedy Central’s “Another Period” or Showtime’s “Dice,” or from sitting in a hot tub with every comedian she can wedge in there. And you may recognize Moshe Kasher from attempting to rap about cultural appropriation on his Comedy Central show “Problematic” and just . . . no. (He did effectively troll troll Mike Cernovich, but how hard is that?) In any case, Natasha and her (new!) hus-boo Moshe are coming to the Wilbur on Saturday night as part of their hazardously participatory “Endless Honeymoon” tour. (Sneak peek and possible spoilers here.) Warning: These two can smell an embarrassing story from 100 yards, so choose your seats wisely. Tickets here.

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ROLE PLAY: “Some plays, and some performances,” writes the Globe’s Don Aucoin, “take the idea of necessary to a deeper level. In those rare cases, the critic’s adjectival exhortation ‘must-see’ can almost border on the literal. ‘American Moor’ is one such play and one such performance.” Up through Aug. 12 at the Plaza Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts, Keith Hamilton Cobb’s “blisteringly eloquent and penetrating meditation” on race is built around a 52-year-old black man (known only as the Actor) auditioning for the title role of “Othello” under the cues of a young white director. The result is “a performance that shakes the Plaza Theatre walls and audience complacency alike.” Get tickets here.

FOLK EXPLOSION: Not gonna lead you on here: Newport Folk Festival? Sold out. The snoozing, as they say, is the losing. So unless you’ve got tickets under your oversize floppy hat, or a really long trenchcoat and great balance, or a willingness to brave the resale market, no Fleet Foxes, or Regina Spektor, or Michael Kiwanuka, or Angel Olson, or Offa Rex (a collaboration between the English singer-songwriter Olivia Chaney and Colin Meloy and his band the Decemberists) for you. (You can always just read the book.) Meanwhile, up in Spindle City, where “Art Is the Handmaid of Human Good” (about that motto. . .), the Lowell Folk Festival is happening the very same Friday to Sunday stretch (which is actually rather punk of them), and there are also no tickets available — because it’s free. This year, the longest-running free folk festival in North America features “high test conjunto” from Los Texmaniacs, Appalachian folk from Dori Freeman, Zimbabwean sounds from Mokoomba, and the interplanetary harmony of the Sun Ra Arkestra. More info here.

SECOND WEND: Though Burr calls “Landline,” the new “wry New York family-dysfunction farce” from director Gillian Robespierre and actress Jenny Slate “mostly merely cute on a scene-by-scene basis,” it should still appeal to anyone who saw promise in the duo’s 2014 breakthrough “Obvious Child.” It’s got “a stronger supporting cast and (slightly) better production values than Robespierre’s first film,” writes Burr in his 2½-star review, “but also a propensity for playing it safe and dulling the pain just when the pain should be sharpest.” Opens Friday.

“Big Wave” is part of the Dana Schutz exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art.
Dana Schutz/Petzel, New York
“Big Wave” is part of the Dana Schutz exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art.

DANA BASH: Right now, activists are calling for the Institute of Contemporary Art to remove the self-titled exhibition of painter Dana Schutz, whose reputation as one of her generation’s top painters was built upon what Cate McQuaid calls “extraordinary paintings, rambunctious, bright, and pained all at once,” and has come under fire since the appearance of “Open Casket,” her portrait of the brutally murdered black teenager Emmett Till, at this year’s Whitney Biennial (and not included in this exhibition). “To some she has become an avatar of racial oppression, to others a champion of artistic freedom,” writes McQuaid. “Either way, it distracts from her barbed, gorgeous, and humane art.” Let your own eyes weigh in: The show is on view through Nov. 26. More information here.


QUACK TEAM:American Charlatan! The Musical” is a one-act wallop of “gosh that sounds awfully familiar” rambunctiousness, relating the tale of one John R. Brinkley — virility peddler, maverick media maven, and pretend politician — in the mold of Pope Brock’s 2009 book “Charlatan: America’s Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam.” Expect several dazzling numbers, probably very little subtlety, and a visible increase in thick, lustrous chest hair as well as increased sexual drive. You’ve gotta try this. What are you waiting for? This 10 p.m. Friday performance is the last one of the show’s run. Get tickets here.

SCHOOL PLAY: Barrington Stage Company has a lively production of “Speech & Debate,” the name-making 2008 play by (since) Tony-winning playwright Stephen Karam, and it features what Aucoin calls “a comic dynamo named Betsy Hogg, who delivers a sustained electric charge.” A drama of misfits drawn into scandal in an Oregon high school, it’s an early work that’s aged well. If anything,” Aucoin writes, “the play’s original message is more pertinent than ever, with its reminder that late adolescence can be a very rocky passage, especially in the digital age, when the transit from thought to word to deed can be lightning-quick.” That’s at St. Germain Stage in Pittsfield through Saturday. Find tickets and more info here.

BIRD SONGS: For a return to old-school tweeting, or just on a lark, check out the ornithological/orchestral orgy that is “Tanglewood Takes Flight: A Celebration of Birds and Music With Mass Audubon.” This feather-friendly weekend-long mini-fest darts between Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary and Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall, and will feature five concerts (including a Sunday morning chamber program centered on Messiaen’s “Oiseaux Exotiques”) dovetailed with six guided bird walks (so leave those “wings” you built at home, Carl). That’s in Lenox — just 114 miles as the crow flies. Full schedule and tickets here.

JUST STAY IN! It’s going to be all ehh out and there’s so much Netflix you haven’t Netflix’d. Why, just look at this list of timely, timeworthy new titles assembled by Burr (including a new show from “Transparent” creator Jill Soloway that I won’t name drop here lest you think I’m trying to pull a stunt). They’re at least as fresh as any stream you’ll find in the woods.

Or if two-hour chunks aren’t gonna get you all the way to “Game of Thrones,” Matthew Gilbert has compiled a chromatically ranked list of bingeable series you may have slept on/through.


If you’re looking for “patronizing claptrap,” “snotty yet trite social criticism . . . and sonic experiments that more often than not come crashing down,” there’s a new Arcade Fire album out. (Isaac Feldberg wrote that. I’m just backing it 100 percent.) Lulz at them.

And Michael Angelakos, a.k.a. Passion Pit, has just posted the confessional “Tremendous Sea of Love,” so maybe it’s that kind of weekend and if so I hope you feel better, because, and I mean this, you’re pretty great.

And that’ll do it folks! Not kidding about that “American Moor.” Go see it. And however you go about spending your weekend, make it one you’ll miss come Monday. See you next week!

Michael Andor Brodeur can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MBrodeur.