The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Friday, November 30, 2007 - 5
Man Man posing for American Apparel's morbid line models.
Man Man to
The Rude Mechanicals will perform a '50s version of "The Taming of the Shrew" Friday through Sunday at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre.
'Taming' the '50 s
By GABRIEL BAKER
Daily Arts Writer
Man Man is not a band to con-
done ethnic slurs, so to call its
music punk-wop is just not going
to cut it. Even though the band is
Student group puts a
on a classic
By MAUREEN SULLIVAN
Daily Arts Writer
Trading in Elizabethan era food, decor and
sounds forSpam, artdeco and 1950s popsongs,
student theater group the Rude Mechanicals
will perform Shakespeare's
bawdy and highly gendered
"The Taming of the Shrew" The
this weekend with a twist: Taming of
It's staged as a 1950s sitcom.
Director and LSA senior the Shrew
Jennifer Chiles has rcon- Friday and
ceived a distinctive vision Saturdayat 8
of this well-known comedy p.m., Sunday
about family, love and court-
ship. Mild-mannered Bianca
conforms to feminine ideals, At the Lydia
while her older sister Kate Mendelssohn
is fiercely independent and Theatre
outspoken to the point that $3forstudents/$5
she is rude. Problem is, Bian-
ca can't marry until Kate
does. Petruchio, a wandering playboy seeking
a challenge, takes on a bet to woo and tame
Kate so that his buddy can marry Bianca. The
two stubborn characters fall in love but not
before Petruchio calms Kate's wild tendencies
thoughbizarremethods. Petruchio andKate's
unconventional love story balances compro-
mise and passion. The updated period's polite
conventions serve as a foil to Petruchio and
Kate's brash and outrageous behavior.
Modern audiences might be critical of
Shakespeare's characterization, interpreting
Kate's tamer disposition as a sacrifice of per-
sonal freedom and submission to male domi-
nation. This controversial aspect of the play is
one of the reasons Chiles chose to take it on.
The primary cause for alarm is a conclud-
ing monologue delivered by Kate in which
she proclaims her commitment to Petruchio
to the audience: "Thy husband is thy lord,
thy life, thy keeper, thy head, thy sovereign;
one that cares for thee and for thy mainte-
nance." This notorious monologue is actually
removed from many productions of the piece.
But Chiles chose to keep it untouched, believ-
ing that, while challenging, it's important to
the love story.
"The lines aren't troubling, because we've
tried to establish that both Petruchio and
Kate have learned something about compro-
mise and relationships and themselves," Chil-
Chiles perceived an attitude toward gen-
der incredibly reminiscent of the 1950s, with
Bianca and Kate resembling female stereo-
types prevalent in the era. Bianca is the early-
'50s innocent and ideal proper housewife
with a cinched waistline, full skirt and pearls.
Costume Director Amy Julia Cheyfitz, an RC
and LSA senior, describes Bianca's look as
"much more Pleasantville" and even a "a little
cartoonish." Kate, on the other hand, is the
rebellious, fashion-forward modern woman,
inspired by Dior's chic and simple silhou-
Of Shakespeare's plays, "Taming of the
Shrew" lends itself particularly well to flex-
ibility in terms of time period because it takes
place largely within the home as opposed to
involving akingdom or anempire. While stock
images of '50s sock hops, jukeboxes and pink
poodle skirts may come to mind; this vision of
the era contains none of that. Chiles vision is
that of a sophisticated domestic sphere - the
living room, complete with period appropri-
ate fireplace and bar. This central space lends
itself well to the sitcom feel of the play. It's
reminiscent of slapstick comedies like "I Love
Lucy" where most of the action takes place
within the home. The remainder of the play is
Rude Mechanicals offers all students pas-
sionate about theater a chance to participate
in completely student-run productions. This
self-motivated group has an obvious drive
and abundant creative force that ithas poured
into this intense extra-curricular. But when
it comes down to it, it's here to put on a good
show and have fun.
And while our minds can be clouded by
contemporary interpretation, Chiles hasn't
forgotten Shakespeare's original aim for "The
Taming of the Shrew" - to entertain audi-
ences with the comedy of exaggerated char-
"Since it's a comedy, (the actors') level of
familiarity with one another means they
aren't afraid to joke around on stage," Chiles
The cast members' bonds should come
through in the comic timing of the tight-knit
"Since we've all been working together for
so long, we can't help but have a close relation-
ship," Chiles said.
Philly born, its
sound is laden
and a general
which makes this
at 8 p.m.
At the Masonic
in Detroit all the more appropri-
ate - even if the Masonic Temple
doesn't seem like the ideal spot for
a feather-flying musical blitzkrieg.
In the words of keyboard-
ist Honus Honus, the band plays
"kitchen-sink pop," though it
seems necessary to add several
other genre suggestions, such as
honky-tonk runaway-train music
or mustachioed R&B. The bottom
line is that Man Man is a multifac-
eted ensemble, often spinning dark,
ravenous tales with the quirkiness
of Captain Beefheart, the coolness
of Tom Waits and the tenderness of
In addition to Honus, the othier
band members each have their
proper nicknames -Pow Pow, Cou-
gar, Sergei Sogay and Chang Wang
round out the full group.
"Pseudonyms are pretty stupid.
So that's why we have some of the
worst ones possible," Honus said.
The instruments these gents play
are equally far-reaching, including
euphonium, melodica and a sur-
prising amount of xylophone. The
resulting sound on their sopho-
more release Six Demon Bag is
heavily percussive, sometimes cha-
otic and totally exhilarating. But
Man Man's penchant for raucous,
rambunctious behavior is signifi-
cantly heightened in its live perfor-
Honus describes the band's
rapid-fire live performances as
"truncated bombasticon," usually
diate transitions between songs
and loads of war paint. But on this
particular tour, as the opening act
for indie sages Modest Mouse, Man
Man is asked to fill out a longer set
in much bigger venues. Nonethe-
less, the boys seem prepared and
excited for the opportunity.
"It's totally great. Our 30-min-
ute set works, we'll see if our 40-
minute does," Honus said, adding,
"If given a ginormous stage, we're
still gonna play in the center of it.
But (with the bigger venue space). I
can kind of spread my wings a little
This upcoming year holds sev-
eral significant events for the band.
In addition to touring with Mod-
est Mouse, Man Man just recently
signed with Anti-Records to dis-
tribute their third album in early
spring 2008. When the band fin-
ishes up this tour in the next couple
of weeks, it plans on taking some
time off before embarking on an
epic "forever-tour" in promotion of
brings a feather-
their new album. While the album
still has several more months of
post-production before inevitably
leaking, the band doesn't seem to
fully discourage new listeners from
procuring their already-existing
albums via the Internet, hopefully
encouraging interest to see them
"In a way it's good because it
makes live bands have to be better,"
Honus said. "The proof is in the
Pudding indeed. At any rate, the
band's performance this Saturday
is sure to be an exuberant bonan-
za of soul, pop and burly doo-wop
barbershop in a setting that poses
more of an interesting challenge
than a problem. In the words of
Honus Honus and the rest of the
troupe, "There's only two bands. So
you know, I guess if you want to go
get your beer while we're playing,
you're more than welcome to. But
you'll be hurting our feelings. But
ARTS IN BRIEF
"heater for her thighs."
The band just attempts to syn-
thesize too many elements in
Avenged Sevenfold, producing an
inconsistent mess of drawn-out
guitar solos and Now That's What
I Call Music.
Avenged Sevenfold is a product ' s
of its time. The band's fourth disc Last sear
is more like a random selection 1
of musical trends absorbed into
the band's Guitar Hero-approved **
blend of modern rock and '80s
metal than a cohesive album. "Last Laugh '07"
The SoCal outfit transitions Sunday at 10 p.m.
through country, pop-punk and Comedy Central
chugging show tunes with the aid
of a choir and orchestra. Comedy Centra
But the list of genres can't save '07" is a hastily
the weak base of Avenged Seven- hour of standup
fold's sound. The heavy-metal, typical "Comedy
double-bass drumming is unin- ents" style. The sh
spired, and the addition of mis- Black ("Accepted
erable-sounding, tired modern ("Insomniac with
rock doesn't help. Even the few and D.L. Hughley
unexpected .musical additions the Sunset Strip")
that don't immediately come off mixup of comedi
as a novelty are inevitably buried tunately don't real
beneath tapping guitars or the The special ha
tortured howling of vocalist M. but it lacks the sm
Shadows. ers have grown
M. Shadow's morbid lyrics vary Past standup spec
from self-righteous ("Critical bigger names an
Acclaim") to religious ("Bromp- boundaries while
ton Cocktail") and even predatory genuine comedy.
("Scream"). The most disturbing Hughley is cot
moment comes when Shadows taining, but the s
combines the morbid with the said for his colle
romantic, resulting in the necro- Black's anti-esta
philic "A Little Piece of Heaven." ings are hysterica
On the track, Shadows celebrates Laugh '07," he ro
anow"perfect" sexlife with a for- our problems mig
mer flame he will preserve with a electing Santa as
al's "Last Laugh
comedy in the
ow stars Lewis
"), Dave Attell
h Dave Attell")
y ("Studio 60 on
, an unexpected
ans who unfor-
Ily fit together.
as its moments,
ooth flow view-
ials have pulled
d pushed more
ame cannot be
al, but in "Last
ants about how
ht be solved by
your TiVo space for something
else. Most of the funny jokes are
in the Web previews anyway.
New show hurt by
Sundays at 11:30 p.m.
Has two friends competing for
the biggest fart become accept-
able programming? No wonder
American youths can't find Nor-
way on a map.
"Kenny vs. Spenny," a Cana-
dian show repackaged by the cre-
ators of"South Park," is about two
men and the contests they have.
These include "who can last the
longest without getting a boner"
and "who can be tethered to a
goat the longest." Yeah, the last
one is funny, but the disgusting
contests outnumber the original,
The showis easy to catch up on:
Kenny is the loud, gross one who
cheats and schemes to win, while
Spenny is the "sensitive" one who
tries to earn his victory. In short,
the two are basically losers.
Certainly no "South Park,"
"Kenny vs. Spenny" shows that
smelly antics should only come
in small doses. Otherwise you're
left with a program that's nothing
more than drunk conversation
fodder for the loud jerks in your
Pops plays film
"Pops Goes Wild"
Sunday at 11:30 p.m.
At the Michigan Theater
$5 w/ student ID/$8
This Sunday, the oldest popu-
lar music campus orchestra in
the country will unleash its inner
beast. Michigan Pops is made
entirely of students (graduate and
undergraduate), This year's new
music director, Alex Sutton, who
worked with the orchestra pre-
viously as a choral director and
an assistant conductor, veritably
gushes with enthusiasm about
this year's performance.
"The orchestra has been work-
ing tirelessly, and they're very,
very eager to perform the music
for an audience," Sutton said in a
phone interview. Sunday's selec-
tions will be based around the
theme of "Pops Goes Wild," with
music from "Jurassic Park," the
1930s version of "King Kong" and
possiblythe greatest Disney movie
of all time, "The Lion King." Pops
will also perform several classical
pieces, like "The Carnival of the
Animals" by Camille Saint-Saens.
The orchestra's unorthodox
spirit is perhaps its greatest asset.
"It's music you don't frequently
hear in the concert halls," Sutton
said. "I mean, I don't think you're
going to hear the New York Phil-
harmonic playing 'Tarzan.' Michi-
gan Pops, on the other hand, will,
and if its past performances are
any indicator, it will do it superbly.
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