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February 22, 2012 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-02-22

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - 5A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - 5A

Funny, dark 'Box'

Basement Arts to
bring light humor
to serious themes
For the Daily
The span of a day can be gone
before its noticed, yet each 24
hours presents almost unlimit-
ed opportunity.
"The Shadow The Shadow
Box" takes Bo
this theme Bx
and runs with Thursdayat
it, present- 7p.m. and 11
log a narrative p.m. and Friday
complete with at 7 p.m.
death, laughter
and everything Walgreen
in between - Drama Center
all contained Free
within a single
day's time.
Basement Arts, a student-run
theater organization that has
presented free theater for over
20 years to both the University
and Ann Arbor, is presenting the
show at the Walgreen Drama
Center this Thursday and Fri-
day. This Tony Award and
Pulitzer Prize-winning drama,
written by Michael Cristofer
in 1977, takes place in separate
cabins on the grounds of a large
Three cancer patients - Joe,
Brian and Felicity - are living
with their respective families
as they reach the end of their
treatment and participate in
interviews with a psychiatrist.
The Interviewer enhances their
dialogues, flowing seamlessly
between the serious and often
humorous moments that sur-
round the idea of mortality.
MT&D junior Derek Joseph
Tran makes his directorial
debut with "The Shadow Box,"
which he hopes will accurately
portray the struggle of coping
with death.
"The play revolves around
hope," Tran said. "Each patient
progresses through five stages
(of grief): denial, anger, bargain-
ing, depression and acceptance.
While they are all staggered in
their stages, they share the com-
mon ground of hope."
The play focuses on those
hard, emotional conversations
that evoke the reality of its topic.
As the day ends, no moral dilem-
mas have been solved, no one
has died, and no one is going to
live forever.
This triptych, or three asso-

"We do not know this Robert Downey Jr. or this Jude Law you speak of"
'Sherlock' reinvents
classic tales flawlessly

DailyArts Writer

John, a soldier, "Afghanistan or
Iraq?" The explanation of what
inferences led him to this question

"The Shadow Box" tells the stories of three patients battling cancer

ciated works intended to be
appreciated together, presents
reality, selecting three radically
different people who all share
the same future, whether they
are terminal or not.
Tran highlighted the charac-
ter of Felicity, one of the big per-
sonalities of story.'
"She is seen as hateful
because she is in the anger stage.
But you feel pity and sympa-
thize, because even though she
is constantly spewing venom,
you somehow find the positive,"
he said.
Celebrated by critics for
its intuition, shrewdness and
humor in dealing with a con-
troversial subject matter, Tran
stressed the importance of the
comedy of tragedy, hoping oth-
ers will agree that it is human
nature to use laughter as a cop-
ing mechanism across awkward
Tran also stressed the use
of realism in this version of the
"The set and costume design

remain simple, so as not to dis-
tract from the experimental act-
ing involved," Tran said.
"Time isn't relevant. Despite
technological advances, the
psychological feeling of death
approaching will always be the
same," he said.
As an actor and an author,
Cristofer adapted the play for a
TV movie in 1980, directed by
Paul Newman, which went on
to garner three Emmy nomina-
tions and a win a Golden Globe.
According to Tran, even those
lucky enough to be unpracticed
in the loss of a loved one can
relate to this story: Regardless
of the circumstances, the differ-
ence between being sympathetic
and empathetic is palpable, and
it is found on the stage.
Death is the one common
concern we all live with, the one
certainty in an uncertain world.
"The Shadow Box" aims to drive
this point home, inciting audi-
ences to at least confront those
difficult situations with a few

If there's one thing Hollywood - everything from tan lines on his
is obsessed with, it's reimagining wrists to how he stands - is cop-
what has been done before. Why ied almost verbatim from Doyle's
else would we have two "Spider- prose:
Man" franchises in six years, Though there is no intention
multiple fairy-tale retellings and of stepping on the toes of Guy
reboots of classics like "Planet of Ritchie's "Sherlock Holmes"
the Apes"? The reason producers films, the comparison is inevi-
can't just leave established works table. And "Sherlock" has one
alone is because they're still try- crucial element that gives it the
ing to figure out how best to rein- edge: It actually puts the view-
terpret classic stories. This brings er in Sherlock Holmes's mind.
us to the BBC's "Sherlock," the Ritchie's films usually do this
best show you're not watching. when Robert Downey Jr. is calcu-
A modern retelling of Sir lating his punches, but Sherlock's
Arthur Conan Doyle's beloved mind is so much more complex
canon, "Sherlock" puts the titu- than that. He specializes in logic
lar consulting detective (Benedict and inference, thinking at speeds
Cumberbatch, "Tinker Tailor Sol- that would make most of our
dier Spy") in present-day London. heads spin - and indeed, they do.
It sounds simple enough, but the At the top of many scenes, cam-
execution is pure genius. erawork is done from Sherlock's
Creators Mark Gatiss and Ste- point of view, pointing out stains
ven Moffat (who helped revive on clothes or other clues the
cult favorite "Doctor Who" for rest of us just aren't perceptive
the 21st-century) have done what enough to notice. Other times,
so many couldn't, capturing the he fills us in with an impressively
essence of these stories in a mod- rapid monologue explaining the
ern setting. It's beyond just hav- deductions he made while every-
ing Sherlock and Dr. John Watson one else was busy doing trivial
(Martin Freeman, "The Hitchhik- things like having social skills.
er's Guide to the Galaxy") traipse On such occasions, Cumber-
about wearing jeans. Sherlock fre- batch's delivery is nothing short
quently texts his friends and ene- of mesmerizing.
mies, or he quickly looks up a fact
on the Internet. His fame rises
because of hits on John's blog.
In one episode, a locked camera Old methods,
phone is a major plot device. The
Hounds of Baskerville are geneti- new toys.
cally modified experiments - or
are they?
Each of the six episodes - three
per season - is approximately The few relationships the
90 minutes, a length worthy of reclusive Baker Street detective
feature films. But they don't feel manages to maintain are so sub-
like feature films. They go by as tly and skillfully developed that
quickly as a standard 42-min' they feel natural from the out-.
ute drama, each more suspense- set. Sherlock and John take to
ful and brilliant than the last. each other instantly because of a
The titles usually play on Doyle's shared thirst for adventure, and
original stories, such as "A Study because John is the first person
in Pink" (originally "A Study in
Scarlet") or "A Scandal in Belgra-
via" ("A Scandal in Bohemia"). At
their first meeting, Sherlock asks

to not be thoroughly repelled by
the arrogance that accompanies
Sherlock's unnerving brilliance.
The fun part of setting the show
in the current era is that people
aren't embarrassed to ask if
Sherlock and John are dating -
or to just go ahead and assume
they're a couple. After a while,
John stops denying it, especial-
ly when his string of relation-
ships fail because all girlfriends
play second fiddle to Sherlock
And of course, no version of
"Sherlock Holmes" would be
complete without the detective's
arch-nemesis, James Moriarty
(Andrew Scott, "John Adams").
Ritchie's films depict a Moriarty
that is Sherlock's intellectual
equal, but what they don't show
is how utterly deranged he is.
Scott plays Moriarty without any
restraint, creating an unhinged
image of chaos, much like Heath
Ledger's Joker.
Scott's unsettling sadism adds
to the chemistry of a fantasti-
cally three-dimensional cast of
characters. Cumberbatch and
Freeman play Sherlock and John
so naturally that they feel like
friends from the "moment they
meet. Gatiss doubles as Mycroft
Holmes, coldly indifferent but
also grappling with how to take
care of his little brother. When
Lana Pulver ("True Blood")
shows up as Irene Adler in sea-
son two, the sexual tension
between her and Sherlock is
so palpable that it practically
jumps out of the screen.
Allow me to take a leaf out
of the Reichenbach hero's book
and speak to you in simple facts:
Sherlock is the bestshow ontele-
vision. It's perfectly cast, expert-
ly written, stunningly acted and
just a pleasure to watch. If only
all shows could be on this level.
Then again, if it were ordinary,
it wouldn't be "Sherlock," would


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