September Arts and Entertainment Picks

September 2016’s top cultural events in the Twin Cities

Sept. 10 – Oct. 29

Sense and Sensibility

It’s probably true that a good deal of Jane Austen’s lasting appeal is attributable to her astringent powers of observation and meticulous prose, as well as the obvious class fantasy inherent in her stories of the late-18th-century gentry. For me there was always something darker in her allure as well, a sense of subterranean despair in a highly stratified society based on unearned privilege and held in place only by the tenuous assent of the downtrodden. (What can I say? I’m American.) In any case, this Guthrie production (helmed by new Jungle Theater queenpin Sarah Rasmussen) concerns a pair of sisters whose lives get shipwrecked when their father suddenly dies and leaves them broke in a world in which social status is so precious and precarious that reputations can be shattered with sidelong looks over tea. The clothes and the furniture looked sumptuous back then, but the 

Sept. 16 – Oct. 16

The Children

Playwright Michael Elyanow’s adaptation of the Medea myth references the anger and murder from the Euripides scenario of a scorned sorceress who exacts revenge in blood. In this telling, though, the pair of children, their nurse, and a one-woman Greek chorus are transported from ancient Greece into storm-wracked modern Maine (all this without Stephen King’s involvement) and an entirely befuddled sheriff who doesn’t know quite what to make of his time-traveling visitors and the oddities of their speech. Essential to this Pillsbury House staging are the children, represented by custom-crafted puppets made to resemble the actors controlling them. It’s an eerie effect—those with long memories might recall Ten Thousand Things’ 2005 staging of Iphigenia that left audiences intrigued by another uncanny intersection of puppetry and the classics.

things to do, arts and entertainment, renaissance festivalThrough Oct. 2

Minnesota Renaissance Festival

I’ll admit to being a latecomer to the pleasures of Ren Fest, but now I’m a sucker for a giant turkey leg followed by a knife-throwing exhibition and watching armored knights on horseback jousting (from a safe distance). Art history in college had me visualizing the Renaissance in terms of masterpieces of religious art, pious statuary, and the alien brainstorms of Leonardo da Vinci. Impressions change: Puffy shirts, jesters, and maidens in mermaid costumes are a good deal more fun at this juncture in my life. A couple of quick points: That verbally hectoring fellow perched above the dunk tank is so in for a soaking this year; and remember that axes, claymores, maces, pikes, and halberds stay at home (their policy, not mine). (Photo by Alexandra Beatie)

things to do, arts and entertainment, sigur ros, concertsSept. 29

Sigur Rós

They’ve never been terribly hummable, or particularly describable—pretty apt for a band whose lyrics are alternately sung in their native Icelandic as well as the band’s made-up language called Vonlenska. But from the uncanny orchestral swells of their 1999 breakthrough Ágætis byrjun to the violent hammering of their bonkers 2013 single “Brennisteinn” (“Brimstone” in English), Sigur Rós have never been anything less than fascinating. Their sound wends a path through emotions for which there are no handy words, only a half-articulated sense of joy and despair in the same nonlinear space. This Orpheum show promises to flirt with interstellar overdrive. (Photo by Dorit Salustkij)

things to do, arts and entertainment, theater, lady and the trumpThrough Nov. 5

Lady and the Trump

Talk about a challenge: Donald Trump’s presidential campaign may have left the fact checkers weeping poignantly over their keyboards, but their lot is a walk in the park compared to the task in front of the satirists. How do you poke fun at a subject so impervious to irony, so indestructibly convinced of the rightness of everything that comes out of his mouth? The Brave New Workshop is tackling it with a revue that reflects a discontent in the electorate as deep as the Mariana Trench, and mordant humor from the recognition that we find ourselves in a moment as downright weird politically as anything in my memory. A belly laugh is certainly welcome. (Photo by Dani Werner)