Persuasion, The Many Saints of Newark, Venom: Let There Be Carnage
I’m sort of new to Bedlam, a theater company whose agenda seems to be put a contemporary spin on classic works, with one of their most successful shows being Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility” from a few years back, which I didn’t see. Their current show is an adaptation of another Austen novel, “Persuasion,” and the production seems to have the same humor and irreverence as their mandate, but still in keeping with the integrity and spirit of the original novel (which I must confess wasn’t evident in some recent Bedlam shows like “Peter Pan” and “Uncle Romeo Vanya Juliet”). Standout actors include Arielle Yoder, as our easily persuadable heroine, Anne Elliot, who mostly has to keep a straight face during the clowning of the rest of the cast, and Jamie Smithson, who is the clown most responsible for these laughs. There are some odd choices here and there (the sheep?) but overall, this is a fine and fun look at one of Austen’s lesser-known novels.
The Many Saints of Newark (c) Warner Bros
Film: The Many Saints of Newark
In cinemas and HBO Max
I have never seen a single episode of “The Sopranos,” and I’ve heard people query, would “The Many Saints of Newark” work without knowing a thing about the legendary show? I do know some things: Tony is the head of the mob and he goes to a psychiatrist. I know the actors who made their mark in the show, and I know the “Don’t Stop Believin’” of it all and that’s about it. I just don’t like mobster movies or TV shows because it’s always “same story, different ways of killing.” “Saints” doesn’t deviate from the usual mob tropes and thus the characters, and so I didn’t find the story really compelling. While the story makes sense for us few “Sopranos” virgins, there are way too many ancillary supporting characters, which I figure means more to the show’s fans. Alessandro Nivola finally gets to be the lead of a movie and his Dickie is pretty well drawn. The 1960s race riots in Newark provides the backdrop to the best parts of this movie, mostly seen through the eyes of Harold (Leslie Odom Jr.) but I couldn’t help but wonder: “How many African American characters were even in the pilot of ‘The Sopranos?’”
Venom (c) Sony Pictures