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November 06, 2003 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-11-06

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!7v

ARTS

The Michigan Daily - Thursday, November 6, 2003 - 9A

JEKYLL & ADAMS
THE TWO FACES OF RYAN ADAMS

Shakespeare's 'Venice'
given a modern twist

By Alex WoIsky
Daily Arts Writer

By Katie Marie Gates
Daily Arts Writer

if:

No matter how hard he tries, Ryan Adams' brash
exterior will never be a composite sketch of all the
bad boy images of himself he has compiled in his
head. Case in point: Rock N Roll is a fourteen track
relapse to 1985 that'll have you wishing Doc Brown
would've just smashed the damn Delorean the first
time he had the chance.
Acting as the official follow-up to Gold, it
replaces the warm, foreboding Love is Hell as the
new full-length album, while the latter is being
released as two trimmed down EPs. Growing pro-
gressively more narcissistic, Adams all but ditches
the melancholy, literate posture he upheld during his
tenure with alternative country luminaries Whiskey-
town; something that followed him into his solo
debut Heartbreaker.
An abrasive chord structure guides "This Is It" a
sharp, uncompromising homage to the Cure and
early U2 with the vocal thrash of Johnny Thunders.
Following in lead, "Shallow" and "1974" appear to
have been cut from the same swath; the sound of the
guitars, the air beneath Adams' fingers, and the
undeniable spite hanging from every word.
The album peaks with the effervescent "Anybody
Want to Take Me Home" Adams' shining moment
on Rock N Roll. Built with an addictive hook, soar-
ing guitars playing riffs he copped from Petty, Clap-
ton, and Richards and a vocal croon that's a
reminiscent cocktail of Kurt Cobain and Joan Jett
pining for guidance he bellows, "I am in the twilight

U..t

Cell phones and business suits in a
Shakespeare play? Changing times call
for new adaptations of our old favorites
and the Rude Mechanicals are not
afraid to make a mark with their
upcoming performance of "The Mer-
chant of Venice."
"I am obsessed with Shake-
speare," admitted the senior director
Megan Marod. With several Shake-
spearian titles under her belt, this
time she chose a comedy with a chal-

,

1 Jin,

I I,
of my youth / not that I'm going to remember," one
of the album's most honest moments.
However, moments like those were watered down
and eventually washed out by the overwhelming
onslaught of lyrical missteps. Adams loses himself
in the sea of insider references (Joy Division, N.WA
and the Verve) and artificial cynicism he's made for
himself and as a result the material suffers.
Moments throughout Rock N Roll show signs of
apathy, laziness and languor a stark contrast from his
earlier works which displayed his lyrical prowess
and the strength of his alternative country roots.
On the other side of the equation, Adams'
abridged LP turned dual-EPs Love is Hell shows a
side of the singer/songwriter that's had time to per-

colate. Lyrically and musically sound, it follows in
the footsteps of Gram Parsons, Walter Hyatt and
alternative country pioneers Uncle Tupelo in recreat-
ing the lush, theatrical sounds of Americana.
The brittle, gentleness of "Political Scientist"
watches a piano waltz over the depressing tale of
urbanization and pollution where he lyrically draws
correlations to the degradation of the human self.
"Afraid Not Scared" is a cold, bitter reflection on a
life slowly losing meaning as the world slowly
builds around you while "This House is Not for
Sale" caps off the trilogy in dramatic fashion with
Adams pleading, "Tell them that this house is not for
sale / and calm down."
And while most surprising aspect of the EP is
Adams' beautifully melancholy take on the Oasis
hit, "Wonderwall," he nearly escapes the same pit-
falls as Rock N Roll. However, this time around
brevity is on his side, and Love is Hell proves to be
one of the most brutally honest releases of the year.
Rock NRoll, Lost Highway: **I
Love is Hell Pt.1, Lost Highway: ***

lenging- and con-
troversial script.
The plot
revolves around
Shylock, a Jewish
moneylender, who
wants a pound of
flesh from Anto-
nio, a Christian,
for the unpaid debt
of his friend Bas-
sanio. Meanwhile,

The
Merchant of
Venice
Nov. 7, 8 at 8 p.m.
and
Nov. 9 at 2 p.m.
Tickets - $8
At the Mendelssohn
Theater

character was generally seen as being
a horrible, demonic person." Topping
sited the famous monologue "If you
prick us do we not bleed / If you tick-
le us do we not laugh ..." to empha-
size Shakespeare's attempt to
humanize Shylock.
Marod also finds the cliquey
atmosphere of Venice's mercantile
world very relevant in the University
setting. "Everyone tries to fit in and be
part of the society," she observed, "but
in the end individuals realize when
they tried to conform they lost some of
themselves."
Though the language has not
been altered for the Rude Mechani-
cals production, Marod describes the
setting as "a world representative of,
but not, modern day Wall Street."
The merchants of the story now sport
gray business suits and there is even
a scene with everyone talking on cell
phones. Marod said she developed
the updated "new home" for the
piece so "actors can relate to it easier
and audiences will look to it and (it
will) make them think."
While casting turned out to be a
complete surprise to the director she
realized that "they all fit very nicely
into their roles" and is especially excit-
ed about the strong male involvement
in the production.
Both Marod and Topping have
found the diverse cast works well
together. "It's nice because you get a
lot of communication between the dif-
ferent skill levels and there's a lot of
learning involved," Topping said. "This
cast has really bonded," he added, with
even the freshman heavily involved.
There may be new actors, sets and
costumes but the power of Shake-
speare's words persevere in this updat-
ed look at "The Merchant of Venice."
Plus, "it's short," laughs Marod. At a
little over two hours, audiences will be
sure to stay awake and amused by the
intriguing tale.

Underrated season of 'X-Files' abducted by DVD

Portia of Belmont, the object of Bas-
sanio's affection, presents each of her
many suitors with the option of choos-
ing from one of three chests for her
hand in marriage. Throw in a few love
entanglements and a cross-dressing
fiasco and the result is a classic Shake-
spearian comedy.
While the play contains an outright
negative representation of the central
Jewish figure, "It wasn't written to be
anti-Semitic," Marod commented. Her
challenge was to "find ways of pre-
senting it in post WWII."
Nat Topping, a senior who plays
Shylock, also recognizes the signifi-
cance of this text. "It's important his-
torically," he said, "because it's, to the
best of my knowledge, the first multi-
dimensional Jewish character in Eng-
lish literature. Before then the Jewish

By ieissa Runstrom
Daily Ars Writer

Love, murder, intrigue, alien replace-
m6nts - who could ask for anything
more? You will find all of this and more
in FOX's new release, "The X-Files:

The Complete
Eighth Season."
This six-disc set
includes all 21
episodes with
h igh - q u a lit y
Dolby sound and

The X-FIes:
Season 8
DVD
FOX

acter profiles and game leave much to
be desired, but the rest of the extras are
decent. The set is packed with extras,
which are interesting to both the casual
fan as well as an avid "X"-phile.
While the bonus materials are inter-
esting, it is the individual episodes
which shine. In this season, the writers
finally gave loyal viewers the carrot that
had been dangling overhead for years.
Not only is evil Krycek (Nicholas Lea)
killed, but Mulder (David Duchovny)
and Scully (Gillian Anderson) finally
kiss and acknowledge the relationship
that had been brewing for eight years.
The season has been unjustly criti-
cized and many stopped watching after
an episode or two without Agent Mul-
der. Duchovny only signed on for about
half of the episodes in the 2000 season,
but this provided an interesting avenue
to produce a fresh show again. The writ-
ers got back to creating stories about
unexplained phenomena and monsters,

a staple more or less ignored in the two
previous seasons. Also, Gillian Ander-
son utilizes Duchovny's absence by
turning in a breathtaking performance
and it is a delight to see her acting
prowess mature in this season.
New Agents Doggett (Robert Patrick,
"Terminator 2: Judgement Day") and
Reyes (Annabeth Gish, "Mystic Pizza")
are introduced to help propel the series
and replace Anderson and Duchovny if
they would decide not to return. Many
viewers were upset by the changes and
the new characters introduced, but these
alterations only strengthen the show,
which had been on a downward slide.
With season eight, "The X-Files"
returns to creepy instead of silly and
reclaims the quality that had been evap-
orating quickly.
Show: ****
Picture/Sound: ***
Features: ***

clear picture. It includes extra features
such as the documentary "The Truth
About Season Eight," deleted scenes
and special effects sequences with com-
mentary. Included in the extras are pro-
motional clips, three character profiles,
a french audio track, Spanish subtitles
and a new DVD-ROM game. The char-

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