Second Generation Wayans
Tuesdays, 10:30pm, BET
Captive audience: People who always wondered what Entourage would look like with black dudes; the six or seven people who saw A Haunted House.
Moment of truth: See if you can follow this: Wayans family offspring Damien and Craig Wayans have their own show where they bitch about how hard it is getting work as Wayans family offspring. (I don’t hear Happy Endings star Damon Wayans, Jr. complaining.) In this strokefest, they go into business for themselves, starting a production company where they can write, produce and star in projects—kinda like this one! It’s funny how this show follows Real Husbands of Hollywood, where Kevin Hart (who appeared in the pilot) makes fun of the self-entitled, self-congratulatory arrogance these two are excelling at.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Phlegmmy. (C.D.L.)
Thursdays, 10pm, FX
Captive audience: Basically, people who always wished Get Smart would’ve had more profanity, off-color jokes and people yelling at each other.
Moment of truth: TV’s most caustic, deranged and just-plain-wrong cartoon spy show doesn’t lose an inch of its step as it begins its fourth season. Hell, the first five minutes of the premiere alone has its secret-agent asshole of a title character flipping burgers and serving as a family man over at the burger joint from Bob’s Burgers. (H. Jon Benjamin, who voices Archer, also voices the titular character from that other awesome, animated show.) Things only get zanier, louder and more unhinged in future episodes—and, God help me, I love every ferociously fucked-up minute of it.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Emmy. (C.D.L.)
Simpatico Theater and the Renegade
Company present The Amish Project
Thurs., Jan. 17, Walnut Street Theatre. simpaticotheater.org
Overall vibe: A family gathering: supportive with an undercurrent of guilt. Designer Christopher Haig’s starkly simple wooden set honors the modesty of the Amish culture in Jessica Dickey’s timely, brave play. But when the lights came up on Janice Rowland, the guilt kicked in—I couldn’t help but think: “We have an actress attempting to tackle seven characters, but she’s mastered maybe three?”
Most memorable moment: Rowland’s attempts to portray America—a young, unwed, pregnant Latina—says “cliché of a cliché,” right? If only Dickey had interviewed real people connected with the West Nickel Mines School tragedy the same way Anna Deveare Smith interviewed observers of the 1991 race riots in NYC’s Crown Heights for her solo show, Fires in the Mirrors. Facts beat out fiction any day.
Scene stealer: In a solo show, when a performer has to take on many roles, they must start from a neutral place, but alas, Rowland was never given that chance: She wears traditional Amish dress and bonnet the entire show. Solo shows are served best when performed by the person who wrote them. (Jessica Foley)
The Lantern Theater presents
The Beauty Queen of Leenane
Fri., Jan. 18, Lantern Theater. lanterntheater.org
Overall vibe: Lulled by the sound of rain falling over the village of Leenane, audience members sit tight together, like revelers dancing the Haymaker’s jig at a ceili. On stage, the devil is in the details: A crucifix hangs imposed upon an ancient stone wall of this hillside cottage, and a naked light bulb shines over the stove, revealing the rancor of the daily life of Maureen Folan and her mother, Mag.
Most memorable moment: Megan Bellwoar is at her most powerful as Maureen, in the wee hours of the morning, barefoot, free of the bonds of domestic inertia in her loveliest skin-tight velvet black dress, dancing on the tips of her toes in her mother’s cottage, delivering her own declaration of independence: “To Boston! To Boston! I’ll be going ... ”
Scene stealer: It’s a toss-up. Martin McDonagh’s Beauty Queen pivots around Charlie DelMarcelle’s sweet baby blues, but Barrymore Award-winner Mary Martello is so at home in her bathrobe, she barely has to raise her eyelids to dominate a scene. (J.F.)
PW's Music Issue 2014