Fierce Anticipation: Sept. 19-21


A blogumn by Ryan Dixon


Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency by Barton Gellman. I may be threatening to enter uncharted nerd territory by writing about a book that explores the behind the scenes machinations of the Bush administration for the second week in a row, but this newly released tome is the first to fully focus on the most controversial and enigmatic character in our long national Commedia dell’Arte-cum-Jacobean Tragedy: Dick Cheney. In most previous works that explore Bushworld (thanks, Maureen Dowd), Cheney comes off as a sort of Voldemort of the Rockies, lurking in the shadows as his more high-profile subordinates go about his bidding. That this new book places him center stage could very well prove to be a creative challenge for Gellman. How do you shine a bright enough light on a person whose very tenebrous secrecy is the reason for such ongoing fascination? I’m rooting for Gellman to succeed in creating a fully nuanced portrait as opposed to the sort of generic, Freudian simplification that Thomas Harris succumbed to in doing so much damage to the literary legacy of Hannibal Lecter; while the Grand Guignol Hannibal remains one of my favorite literary guilty pleasures, Hannibal Rising was a smelly, bulbous turkey of a novel. And yes, I am fully aware that I’m comparing our Vice President to a cannibalistic serial killer, but I’d like to believe that the self-deprecating Cheney might actually take this analogy as a compliment. In stores now.


Mandy Patinkin in The Tempest. Sadly, I’m not provided with enough space to fully detail the level of artistic admiration and love I feel for the man who has given the world both Inigo Montoya and a signing Che Guevara. With that being said, I’m sure his performance as Prospero (he sings!!!) makes this production at the Classic Stage Company in New York City worth seeing, despite the fact that he sports a beard that makes him look like he’s trying to start an Old Testament fantasy role playing league with Kevin Kline and the Apocalypto-era Mel Gibson. Runs through October 12th.


Rain Man (The Play!) Starring Josh Hartnett as Tom Cruise…I mean “Charlie Babbitt.” At London’s Apollo Theatre in the West End, no less. Did I miss the post in Peter Bart’s Variety blog? When did Josh Hartnett, who was headlining 30 Days of Night less than a year ago, fall far enough down Star Mountain that he became willing to take over an iconic Tom Cruise role from one of the most beloved films of the 80’s? If he really wanted to be in a play that bad, why didn’t the fine folks at CAA just set him up in a production of Hamlet at some regional theatre? The trek to the Manitoba Center Theatre in 1995 to star as the Prince of Denmark certainly cured Keanu Reeves of the theatre bug. Runs through December 20th.