Updated: 8/16/15; 18:59:48

pedantic nuthatch
Life in a Northern Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C. B.M.A.T.C., and Etruscan typewriter erasers. Blogged by David Gorsline.

Sunday, 18 June 2006

The Faculty Room, by Bridget Carpenter, directed by Howard Shalwitz, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Washington

The Faculty Room, Carpenter's "dark comedy," takes place in the teachers' lounge of a Madison-Feurey High School, serving "an ugly small suburb in an ugly small town somewhere in the middle of the United States of America." Most of the story is carried by Carver (fresh-faced Michael Russotto), who is newly transferred into the school to teach world history and is more transparent than he thinks; Adam (wisecracking Ethan T. Bowen), cynical teacher of English who hasn't covered up all his own bruises; and Zoe (edgy Megan Anderson), drama instructor who is following Adam down the hard-bitten path. There are pranks, an unfortunate Halloween party, sexual hijinks generally not spoken of, a student book club for a series of novels in the "Left Behind" genre, an apocalyptic school spirit day celebration, and a miracle.

Woolly newcomer Bowen shines as Adam: imagine Hawkeye Pierce teaching in a high school with metal detectors at every entrance, abusing multiple substances, and yet teaching with passion. (It doesn't hurt that Carpenter gives him the best lines.) And Anderson continues to astonish as Zoe, swinging from hip confidence to binge-eating despair (Twinkies stuffed with corn chips?!).

Michael Kraskin submits another winner of a sound design: when the bell rings and the halls fill with students, it sounds like the intestines of hell. And Jennifer Sheetz dresses the set with all the "ancient inexplicable teacher shit" called for in Carpenter's script: three framed presidential portraits; a smashed wall clock; a battered plush mascot costume (Go Cardinals!); two No Smoking signs and a huge ashtray overflowing with butts; an out-of-commission overhead projector; and a Holocaust of broken chairs and surplus handouts crammed in the corner behind a storage locker—all the detritus of discarded good intentions.

posted: 8:26:57 PM  

Michael Apted introduces digital video technology in the latest installment of his septennial documentary series, 49 Up. As his subjects move into the age that they're becoming grandparents, Apted shows them to be more than a little weary of the periodic intrusion his camera makes into their lives, what John calls the "little pill of poison" that he has to swallow every seven years.

posted: 7:19:55 PM  

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