This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001


(photo by Jason Woodruff)

Four friends are forced to reach deep inside themselves when trouble strikes in DELIVERANCE (photo by Jason Woodruff)

59E59 Theaters
59 East 59th St. between Madison & Park Aves.
Tuesday - Sunday through November 9, $25

For twenty years, the Godlight Theatre Company has been specializing in stage adaptations of modern classic literature that has already been turned into well-known films. Among their previous works are One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, In the Heat of the Night, Slaughterhouse-Five, Fahrenheit 451, and The Third Man. They are now taking on James Dickey’s Deliverance, in a superb, stripped-down production making its world premiere at 59E59. In telling this harrowing story, playwright Sean Tyler and director Joe Tantalo have gone back to the source, Dickey’s 1970 novel, not John Boorman’s Oscar-nominated 1972 film, which starred Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ned Beatty, and Ronny Cox as four friends whose Georgia canoe trip goes seriously wrong. So don’t expect to hear “Dueling Banjos” (Tantalo uses the Carter Family’s “Wildwood Flower,” from the book) or anyone squealing like a pig. But do expect to be chilled to the bone by this ever-insightful examination of what lurks in the pit of men’s souls.

(photo by Jason Woodruff)

Stark stage adaptation of James Dickey’s DELIVERANCE is told from the point of view of Ed Gentry (Nick Paglino) (photo by Jason Woodruff)

As Lewis Medlock (Gregory Konow), Ed Gentry (Nick Paglino), Bobby Trippe (Jarrod Zayas), and Drew Ballinger (Sean Tant) first set out on their country adventure, they have no idea what’s in store for them. When Griner (Eddie Dunn), a local mechanic, asks them why they’re planning on canoeing down the river, Lewis says, “Because it’s there,” to which Griner ominously replies, “It’s there, all right. But if you git in there and can’t git out, you’re goin’ to wish it wudn’t.” That prophecy comes true when they encounter two mountain men (Bryce Hodgson and Jason Bragg Stanley) who don’t take kindly to city folk, leading to tragedy that the four men might not be able to escape. Deliverance takes place on a shiny black twelve-foot-by-twelve-foot stage, with the audience sitting in two small rows on all four sides. Maruti Evans’s stark lighting and set design also includes dark walls (behind the audience) on which the characters’ reflections glow in the distance (below the biblical quote “The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee / thou that dwelleth in the clefts of the rock / whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart / Who shall bring me down to the ground?”). There are no props or projections, no water, no mountain imagery, no weapons — just the actors, who mimic drinking beer in a bar, paddling down the river, climbing over rocks, holding a rifle, and pulling back a bow. But it’s not gimmicky in the least; instead, it allows viewers to get immersed in the tale, using their imagination the way they would as if reading a book that comes alive in front of them. All of the actors are excellent, though the standout is Godlight regular Paglino, as the narrative unfolds from Ed’s perspective, especially during a long monologue during which he stares death in the face. At times you’ll think you are actually seeing the woods, the river, a deer, but it’s just your mind getting caught up in this thrilling, unique theatrical experience.


Central Park

Central Park Pumpkin Flotilla will float along Harlem Meer at dusk on October 26

Charles A. Dana Discovery Center
Inside the park at 110th Street between Fifth & Lenox Aves.
Sunday, October 26, free, 3:00 - 6:00

The annual Halloween Parade and Pumpkin Flotilla returns to Central Park on Sunday, offering an afternoon of family-friendly activities celebrating All Hallows’ Eve. In order to participate in the flotilla, you need to bring a precarved pumpkin, with top, that is approximately eight pounds, is no bigger than a soccer ball, and contains no artificial materials such as paint, glitter, marker, or food dye. (Be advised that you don’t get your pumpkin back once it makes its way across Harlem Meer.) There will also be live music, spooky storytelling, pumpkin carving demonstrations, and a costume parade.



A close-knit Swedish family is about to face a serious crisis in Ruben Östlund’s FORCE MAJEURE

FORCE MAJEURE (Ruben Östlund, 2014)
Lincoln Plaza Cinema, 1886 Broadway at 63rd St., 212-757-2280
Angelika Film Center, 18 West Houston St. at Mercer St., 212-995-2570
Opens Friday, October 24

Ruben Östlund’s Force Majeure is one of the best films you’ll ever hear. Not that Fredrik Wenzel’s photography of a lovely Savoie ski resort and Ola Fløttum’s bold, classical-based score aren’t stunning in their own right, but Kjetil Mørk, Rune Van Deurs, and Jesper Miller’s sound design makes every boot crunching on the snow, every buzzing electric toothbrush, every ski lift going up a mountain, every explosion setting off a controlled avalanche a character unto itself, heightening the tension (and black comedy) of this dark satire about a family dealing with a crisis. On the first day of their five-day French Alps vacation, workaholic Tomas (Johannes Bah Kuhnke) and his wife, Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli), are enjoying lunch on an outdoor veranda with their small children, Harry (Vincent Wettergren) and Vera (Clara Wettergren), when a potential tragedy comes barreling at them, but in the heat of the moment, while Ebba instantly seeks to protect the kids, Tomas runs for his life, leaving his family behind. After the event, which was not as bad as anticipated, the relationship among the four of them has forever changed, especially because Tomas will not own up to what happened. Even Harry and Vera (who are brother and sister in real life) know something went wrong that afternoon and are now terrified that their parents will divorce. But with Tomas unwilling to talk about his flight response, Ebba starts sharing the story with other couples, including their hirsute friend Mats (Kristofer Hivju) and his young girlfriend, Fanni (Fanni Metelius), who are soon arguing in private about what they would do in a similar situation.


There might be no going back in beautiful-looking and -sounding Swedish satire

Winner of the Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard sidebar of the Cannes Film Festival and the Swedish entry for the 2014 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Force Majeure is a blistering exploration of human nature, gender roles, and survival instinct. The often uncomfortable and utterly believable tale, inspired by a real-life event in which friends of Östlund’s were attacked by gunmen, recalls Julia Loktev’s The Loneliest Planet, in which an engaged couple encounter serious trouble and their immediate, individual reactions change their dynamic. Östlund (Play, Involuntary), who was also influenced by statistics that show that more men survive shipwrecks than women and children on a percentage basis, often keeps dialogue at a minimum, revealing the family’s growing predicament by repeating visuals with slight differences, from the way they sleep in the same bed to how they brush their teeth in front of a long mirror to the looks on their faces as they move along a motorized walkway in a tunnel at the ski resort. The ending feels forced and confusing, but everything leading up to that is simply dazzling, a treat for the senses that is impossible not to experience without wondering what you would do if danger suddenly threatened you and your loved ones.


London trio Happyness will be at Baby’s All Right on October 24 as part of the Panache CMJ Showcase, taking the stage at 8:40; also on the bill are Homeshake, Dune Rats, Meatbodies, Calvin Love, Hunters, OBN IIIS, and Purling Hiss. The thirty-fourth annual CMJ Music Marathon continues through October 25; below are more recommendations for Friday night.

Keynote with David Lowery, NYU Kimmel Center, Rosenthal Pavilion, tenth floor, 12:20
September Girls, Rough Trade, 1:15, and the Delancey, 7:00
Bridget Barkan, Bowery Electric, 2:00
Room Full of Strangers, Rock Shop, 6:50
The Liza Colby Sound, Grand Victory, 9:30
Lily & the Parlour Tricks, the Living Room, 9:50
The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, Cameo Gallery, 10:50
Kate Boy, Knitting Factory, 1:00


DANCING DREAMS offers teens the chance to work with dance-theater legend Pina Bausch

BAMcinématek, BAM Rose Cinemas
30 Lafayette Ave. between Ashland Pl. & St. Felix St.
Monday, October 27, $14, 7:30

From 1973 until her death in 2009, legendary dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch ran Tanztheater Wuppertal, the German company that changed the face of dance theater forever with such seminal productions as Rite of Spring, Café Müller, Danzón, Masurca Fogo, and so many others, many of which had their U.S. premieres at BAM. In 1978 she staged Kontakthof, collaborating with Rolf Borzik, Marion Cito, and Hans Pop, set to music by Juan Llossas, Charlie Chaplin, Anton Karas, Sibelius, and other composers. In 2000, she revisited the piece with a cast of senior citizens, and eight years later she turned the roles over to a group of Wuppertal high schoolers, most of whom had never heard of her and had never danced before. Director Anne Linsel and cinematographer Rainer Hoffmann follow the development of this very different production in Dancing Dreams, speaking with the eager, nervous participants, who talk openly and honestly about their hopes and desires, as well as with rehearsal directors Jo-Ann Endicott and Bénédicte Billet, who do not treat the teens with kid gloves but instead are trying to get them to reach deep inside of themselves and hold nothing back. When Bausch shows up to choose the final cast, telling the teenagers that she doesn’t bite, the tension mounts. Dancing Dreams is an intimate look at the creative process, about dedication and determination and what it takes to be an artist. It suffers at times from feeling too much like a reality television show, mixing American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance with the fictional Glee, but it also offers a last glimpse at Bausch, whose final interview is captured in the film. “You might think I’ve had enough of Kontakhtof,” she says at one point. “But every time it’s a new thing.” Dancing Dreams is screening October 27 at 7:30 in conjunction with the current production of Kontakhtof running at BAM October 23 - November 2 and will be followed by a Q&A with longtime Tanztheater Wuppertal members Billiet and Dominique Mercy, moderated by Marina Harss. In addition, on October 25 at 12 noon, BAM and Dance Umbrella will present a free live stream of “Politics of Participation,” a cross-Atlantic panel discussion at King’s College with Penny Woolcock, Matt Fenton, Kenrick “H2O” Sandy, and Michael “Mikey J” Asante and at BAM with Julie Anne Stanzak and Simon Dove, moderated by Dr. Daniel Glaser.



Joely Richardson stars as poet Emily Dickinson in off-Broadway revival of THE BELLE OF AMHERST

Westside Theatre
407 West 43rd St. between Ninth & Tenth Aves.
Tuesday - Sunday through January 25, $79

“Words are my life,” Joely Richardson declares as Emily Dickinson in the new revival of William Luce’s The Belle of Amherst that opened October 20 at the Westside Theatre. “I look at words as if they were entities, sacred beings.” In the one-woman show, Richardson (Nip/Tuck, Lady Chatterley’s Lover) stars as poet Emily Dickinson, a spinster-recluse who is sharing her life story with the audience. Now fifty-three, Dickinson, wearing a long white dress (designed by William Ivey Long), her auburn hair pulled back tight, whimsically discusses the importance of family (her sister Lavinia, known as Vinnie; her brother, Austin; her parents; and her aunt Libby), social graces, fame, solitude, nature, art, and romance, her monologue smoothly folding in her poetry along the way. Walking through Antje Ellermann’s bright, charming late-nineteenth-century drawing-room set, Dickinson is also bright and charming, though clearly a bit off-center, enthusiastically explaining that she is in full control of herself, even if the denizens of Amherst think she is crazy. “Oh, I do have fun with them. My menagerie,” she says. “I guess people in small towns must have their local characters. And for Amherst, that’s what I am. But do you know something? I enjoy the game. I’ve never said this to anyone before, but I’ll tell you. I do it on purpose. The white dress, the seclusion. It’s all deliberate.”

Emily Dickinson (Joely Richardson) proudly shares her life and poetry in THE BELLE OF AMHERST (photo by Carol Rosegg)

Emily Dickinson (Joely Richardson) proudly shares her life and poetry in THE BELLE OF AMHERST (photo by Carol Rosegg)

Over the course of one hundred minutes and two acts, Dickinson recites her poetry, very little of which was published during her lifetime, and reenacts short vignettes from her life, including attending a dance as a teenager, going to Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, receiving a gentleman caller, and seeing the Northern Lights, all while awaiting the arrival of her literary mentor, Thomas Wentworth Higginson. She excitedly digs through her treasure chest of poems, an ever-growing celebration of the written word that she is intensely proud of. Bravely fighting the sniffles and a few troubled line readings the night we went, Richardson is delightful as Dickinson, playing her with a wide-eyed sense of wonder and an inner freedom that often conflicts with the general perception of who Dickinson was. “In a way, the stories are true,” Dickinson says. “Oh, I believe in truth. But I think it can be slanted just a little.” And so it is with Luce’s (Lillian, Barrymore) extensively researched, skillful, though at times treacly, script. Richardson — the daughter of Vanessa Redgrave and Tony Richardson, granddaughter of Sir Michael Redgrave, and sister of the late Natasha Richardson — and director Steve Cosson (The Great Immensity; Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play) ably differentiate between the past and the present, as Richardson takes on a role that was made famous by Julie Harris, who won a Tony and a Grammy for her original 1976 performance. But Richardson stands tall, fully making it her own.


Who needs to head to SXSW when the Lone Star State comes right here to New York City? On the third night of the thirty-fourth annual CMJ Music Marathon, the third annual Texas Takeover Party takes over the Delancey on Thursday, with twenty-one live performances and DJ sets on two stages from 3:00 to 11:00, including Pageantry at 3:00, Somebody’s Darling at 4:30, Pompeii at 6:45, Featherface at 8:50, the Please Please Me at 9:35, Emily Wolfe at 10:20, and the Suffers at 10:30. With the weekend approaching, CMJ is getting ready to kick into high gear, and this is a fine place to start. Please see below for other recommendations for October 23.

In Conversation: Zola Jesus and John Norris, NYU Kimmel Center, Room 905/907, 3:00
Life Size Maps, Bowery Electric Map Room, 4:00, and Left Field Downstairs, 6:00
Mighty Oak, Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2, 7:00
Beach Fossils, Brooklyn Bowl, 10:00
Dinosaur Feathers, Grand Victory, 10:30
Obits, Knitting Factory, 11:35
Marissa Nadler, Le Poisson Rouge, 12 midnight