The Short List
Critics' Picks: Grace Jones' hula-hoop performance, five reissued Wodehouse tales and 'Shakespeare in Kabul'
Three things Seattle Times writers love this week: Grace Jones' energetic hula-hoop performance at the queen's Jubilee; five reissued Wodehouse tales from W.W. Norton; and "Shakespeare in Kabul."
A gyrating Grace Jones
Forget the flotilla, the Queen's hat and all that other Jubilee nonsense. The true marvel of the occasion was 64-year-old husky-voiced chanteuse Grace Jones singing her 1980s signature tune "Slave to the Rhythm" while hula-hooping throughout the entire song. Dressed as if for some Plastic Space Age gala, Jones gyrated onstage in front of Buckingham Palace for a full four minutes without the least detrimental effect to her vocal performance. QE2 must surely be proud to have such a remarkable subject in her Commonwealth. Just search for "Grace Jones" and "hula hoop" on YouTube, and you'll find her.
Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times arts writer
Bertie Wooster isn't the only Wodehouse chap to drop by the fictional Blandings Castle. A handsome set of five reissued Wodehouse tales from W.W. Norton, complete with colorful new covers by young artists, details Blandings-set high-jinks with other Wodehouse characters, including Galahad Threepwood, Uncle Fred, Beefy Bingham and, of course, Psmith. ("The 'P' is silent, as in pshrimp.")
Melissa Davis, Weekend Plus editor
'Shakespeare in Kabul'
All the world really is a stage for Shakespeare's plays. And "Shakespeare in Kabul" (Haus Publishing) is a fascinating account of the many challenges of producing his comedy "Love's Labour's Lost" in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2005. Authors Stephen Landrigan, an American playwright, and Qais Akbar Omar (an Afghan writer and designer) share the difficulties of translating the script; casting it with actors of both sexes (in a culture where women's public roles are strictly defined); and, after six years in the making, presenting it in the lush gardens of the first Mughal emperor. What shines through are the longings, day-to-day realities and creativity of the Afghani actors, whose kinship with Shakespeare and desire to revive the long-moribund theater scene in their war-plagued country are truly inspiring.
Misha Berson, Seattle Times arts writer