Category Archives: Review

Something Different: A Review of “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency”

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By Kate Hawthorne, Staff Writer

BBC America’s new show “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” kicked off its first season on Oct. 22, 2016 with an hour-long pilot episode entitled “Horizons.” The new series, directed by Max Landis, boasts an amazing cast and features the hilarious duo of Samuel Barnett as the title character Dirk Gently and Elijah Wood — known for his role as Frodo in “The Lord of the Rings” — as Todd Brotzman, Dirk’s reluctant sidekick. First shown at the BBC America panel at New York Comic Con, the first episode of the TV series introduces a number of other characters of varying importance and presents the main mystery of the series, but it does not really get around to explaining a lot. The first series covers the mystery of a missing girl and the murder of the girl’s father, a prominent businessman. It also introduces a strange and mysterious disease Todd’s sister has, which seems to cause hallucinations that can actually hurt her. Other odd occurrences can be seen throughout the first episode, including a man in a gorilla mask, a strange and gruesome murder scene, a person in two places at once, a lottery ticket, and a corgi that keeps popping up.

“Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” is one of the strangest TV series to date. It seems to be a mix of Sherlock and Doctor Who but only really rises to similar mix of insanity and wonderfulness in the last few episodes of the season. By contrast, the first episodes are more of a slog, partially due to the fact that the viewer understands very little. The new series is based on a series of books by Douglas Adams (author of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”) by the same name and yet, according to other reviewers, the only thing the TV series and the book series seem to have in common are the main character. Still, the first season ended on a high note - like winning the slots at a new casino - in comparison to previous episodes. The first season had eight episodes, but the series has already been renewed for a second season which promises another ten episodes and is set to debut some time this fall. Intrigued? The series is not yet available on Netflix, but can be bought on iTunes or watched on the BBC America website until Feb. 8.

January Book Review: “After Alice”

By Kate Hawthorne, Staff Writer

If you like “Wicked” by Gregory Maguire, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll, and Alice Through the Looking Glass” by Lewis Carroll, then you should read…

“After Alice” by Gregory Maguire

This novel continues in the same vein as Maguire’s more well-known novel “Wicked”  — famous for the Broadway adaptation by the same name — in challenging preconceived notions of famous stories and looking at those stories from another perspective. In “After Alice,” this perspective is shown through the eyes of Ada Boyce, a young girl whose best friend is Alice. Alice is described as “unlovely” and is forced to wear an iron corset in order to maintain perfect lady-like posture. One day Alice’s father has a meeting with Mr. Dickens and a strange man named Mr. Winters, who is accompanied by a freed slave named Siam. In an attempt to find Alice, Ada and Siam find themselves tumbling down the same rabbit hole as Alice did; they too are exposed to the curiousness of Wonderland. All three children grow due to their experiences in Wonderland, but in rather different ways. Most know of Alice’s story, which focuses on childhood, but Ada goes through a very different transformation as a result of her time in Wonderland.

Maguire succeeds in creating a wonderful contrast to Lewis Caroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” While Carroll’s books focus on the wonder of childhood, Maguire’s is much more of a coming-of-age novel — of growing into oneself and one’s surroundings. By the end of the story, Ada grew from her experience in Wonderland and benefited from the disassociation from traditional Victorian British society that the trip brought. Ada sprouted her wings thanks to Wonderland; by contrast, the same world gave Alice just another way to stay in her cocoon.

Consent to Be Seen: Magill Library’s Newest Exhibit

By Sophie Webb, Features Editor

Sharpless Gallery in Haverford College’s Magill Library is home to a new exhibit, this one titled Consent to Be Seen. A collection of works by Riva Lehrer, the exhibit opened Oct. 28 and is curated by Courtney Carter ‘17 and Assistant Professor of Writing Kristin Lindgren.

The exhibit is a collection of thirteen pieces of art and two display cases of sketches, all by artist and disability activist Riva Lehrer. Lehrer is a Chicago-based artist whose work focuses on representing the human body, specifically differently abled and physically abnormal bodies and people whose identities have been challenged or traditionally not accepted by society. In Consent to Be Seen, she focuses specifically on the biomedicine idea of “informed consent,” or the permission a patient can give to receive treated from the doctor. But rather than focusing on biomedicine, the exhibit centers around the idea of consenting to being seen. In her work, Lehrer aims to represent disabled bodies and people whose identities are unaccepted as full subjects and full people, challenging the viewer to see something more than the disability.

Each of the thirteen pieces in the exhibit depicts a body, but the medium used ranges from acrylic to colored pencil to collage. The pieces are quite large, and all together they have a commanding presence in the room. Accompanying each piece is a paragraph written by Lehrer that describes the piece and offers more insight, so that the viewer can know more about the subjects of her paintings, whether that subject be herself, transgender poet and activist Eli Clare, activist and University of Wisconsin at Madison professor Finn Enke or Curator and Art Historian Rhoda Rosen. Each of these subjects and the others that accompany them have a story to tell, and Lehrer attempts to tell that story through her art.

The power of the exhibit can’t truly be conveyed through words; it has to be seen. The exhibit will remain open through late January.  Until then, it will continue to influence those who see it, making its viewers pause for a moment and truly think.

From the print edition published Dec. 7, 2016

We Know Who We Are: The Newest Disney Movie

By Kate Hawthorne, Staff Writer

        Thanksgiving week saw the arrival of the newest Disney movie, Moana, in theaters. Starring Auli’i Cravalho (a new talent) and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the movie focuses on the tradition and history of the Polynesian Islands, and does it well. The newest Disney movie has many themes similar to both Mulan and Pocahontas, but has its own unique appeal.

        The movie includes a crazy grandmother very similar to Grandmother Willow from Pocahontas, a “daughter of a chief” rather than a princess (also similar to Pocahontas), two loving parents (as in Mulan) and a girl who is torn between her family, her duty and what is right (similar to Mulan). At the same time, the movie includes traditional Polynesian values and mythology that echoes Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander lore. It’s a wonderful mixture of Mulan, Pocahontas and Polynesian culture.

        Although composed by Lin Manuel Miranda, creator of the musical phenomenon Hamilton, the music of Moana does not initially seem to be as catchy as the music of either Hamilton or some of the old Disney movies. However, the music is still amazing and the lyrics quite poignant. The score, which ncludes songs such as “We Know the Way”, “Shiny”, “How Far I’ll Go” and “I am Moana,” supports and accompanies the Polynesian feel of the film.

        Moana is a wonderful addition to the Disney legacy, and it is an addition that could bring about a new age of cultural honesty. The story is one with which almost everyone can relate: the tale of a girl, growing into herself and realizing where she belongs. Additionally, most viewers can relate to the feeling of settling for something that Moana experiences in the beginning of the movie. With the eponymous hero and the demigod Maui at the core of the movie, it proves to be a film that almost any Disney fan will adore.

From the print edition published Dec. 7, 2016

Who You Gonna Call? The Mawrtyrs!

By Kate Hawthorne, Staff Writer 

If you came to Thomas 224 at around 7:30 this past Friday, you found yourself in the midst of some of the biggest excitement on campus. Every seat was filled so that, by the time the film actually started, people had resorted to sitting and standing in the aisles. Everyone wanted to get a chance to watch—or rewatch—this summer’s biggest feminist blockbuster: “Ghostbusters.”

Practically everyone knows the basic premise of the movie: the old “Ghostbusters” films of our youth redone with four females cast in the traditionally male roles and a “dumb blonde” male (Chris Hemsworth) cast as the receptionist. I vaguely remembered seeing the “Ghostbusters” films as a kid, and I knew that this movie had some big shoes to fill – it had to live up to both the old “Ghostbusters” films and the rave online reviews. When the movie started, it was punctuated with almost constant laughter and commentary. Every time the “Ghostbusters” song came on (which was quite often), the entire room sang along.

The movie is about 80% humor, 50% adventure and 30% feminist critique on the scientific and political world. Although there are some moments where the roles revert to more traditional male-versus-female stereotypes, the majority of the movie is just one long roller coaster of laughter. The four main actresses (Kristin Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones) were all absolutely wonderful and completely hilarious. Esther (BMC ’17) and Isobel (BMC ’18) said that they were “super gay for Holtzman [McKinnon]” and cheered each time she either came onscreen or made yet another sexual innuendo (which seemed to be part of the character’s MO, along with blowing things up). Chris Hemsworth also did an amazing job in his role as Kevin, the receptionist.

Some of the original cast of the 1984 “Ghostbusters” movie even returned for cameos. Three of the original Ghostbusters made appearances: One of them appeared as a bronze bust, the Ghostbusters’ receptionist works at a hotel, and Dana Barrett from the original movies (who is played by Sigourney Weaver) makes a cameo in a post-credits scene as Holtzmann’s (McKinnon) teacher. As with the Marvel movies, everyone in the know stays until the end to watch several scenes that appear throughout the credits.

I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone, having witnessed only positive responses from those who went to the showing. Lauren (BMC ’19) said, “I just loved how everyone started singing along [to the “Ghostbusters” theme song]. The best part [of seeing the movie] is the people… when everyone starts cheering!” Rebecca (BMC ’20) really summed up the wonder and magic of the experience: “There’s nothing better in the world than watching a feminist movie surrounded by a bunch of Mawrtyrs who cheer every time Kate McKinnon makes a sexual joke.”

From the print edition published Oct. 5, 2016

Eurydice: A Modern Take on the Classic Story of Orpheus

By Daisy Chen, Staff Writer

“Take a pamphlet and a rock.” — Wait. A rock?

I walked into an already almost full auditorium. The impressive array of props on stage included a wall of blue one gallon water jugs and a half-cut car.

Eurydice is a modernized version of an original Greek mythology. The play starts out introducing the two main characters, Eurydice and Orpheus, who fall in love and get married. Soon thereafter, Eurydice dies and goes to the underworld, where she reunites with her mother. Meanwhile, Orpheus mourns her death by playing sad music and writing her letters he hopes will reach her. Orpheus does end up traveling to the underworld to rescue Eurydice, but unlike in the original myth, this Eurydice is the one who causes Orpheus to look back, making futile his attempts to rescue her. In this version, Eurydice lost all her memories and Orpheus became a stranger to her, so she thought it best to not follow him back.

In the original mythology, as Orpheus and Eurydice reach the gates of hell, a suspicious Orpheus turns around to see if it was actually Eurydice following him. He fears that Hades, lord of the underworld, had deceived him by sending someone else.

Unlike most plays, this production of Euridice was, to some degree, interactive and full of surprises. The rock given to each audience member at the door entered turned out to be a ticket to the underworld, though it turned into something of a distraction as several people dropped their stone throughout the course of the play. The most surprising moment was the loud stomp that echoed through the auditorium when a light shined on Orpheus as he literally climbed down to the underworld from our seats on the bleachers with a rope. When they asked us to keep the aisles clear because the actors would be running through, this was the last thing I expected.

On the other hand, the entering of the Stones and Hades in a floater that says “sticks and stones” was quite humorous. The Stones spoke directly to the audience at one point, each in a different language, which was very interactive and drew our attention. Hades also made quite the entrance with music and some pick-up lines for Eurydice.

To me, the most interesting and creative aspect of the production was that all the props on the stage was unexpectedly resourceful. I was most captivated by the wall of water jugs. They used it to transfer the letters between Orpheus and Eurydice, but it was also the door to the underworld.

I did not expect this level of detail and sophistication in the design of the set. Even the water dispenser served a bigger purpose than I had originally thought: from using it in the beginning of the play as a setting for Eurydice to drink water, to letting water flow out to create a small pond for sound effects and place setting.

Although this modern adaptation has the same tragic end as the original tale, this version continues the story as Eurydice and her mother re-dip themselves in the river, putting them both into deep sleep just as Orpheus comes down to the underworld yet again to find his wife, only to suddenly forget all his memories.

Lights out.

I was disappointed that Eurydice and Orpheus did not get the happy ending I had hoped they would, but a tragic ending to a love story captured the beauty of the traditional legend.

I’m no critic, but for me Eurydice was worth watching. Besides, admission was free.

The Tri-College Presents: “As Thou Desires”

By Kate Hawthorne, Staff Writer

On the weekend of Nov. 11-13, Swarthmore College’s Department of Theater and Production Ensemble 2016 presented “As You Like It” by William Shakespeare, directed by Alex Torra. The production included three Bryn Mawr College students as actors (Catherine Campo ’19 as Orlando, Margot Wisel ’18 as Jacques, and Emma Wells ’17 as Celia) and a Haverford College student as Assistant Scenic Designer (Yoshi Nomura ’17). The production was done in original pronunciation, which seemed to be a mix of Irish, Scottish, Northern, and Cockney accents. However, the actors in this production used a version that was less thick than the original pronunciation done at the Globe Theatre.

The set was quite lovely and included a variety of trees that were moved around to display the different settings. The palace in a scene before the characters Celia and Rosalind run away was shown with a bunch of little plants in elaborate flower pots to represent a garden, which were removed to show the transition to the forest of Arden. The main set, however, stayed mostly the same – only taking a few items on and off stage to change the scene in small ways. Things like hay bales, two sawhorses and a piece of wood, and a wheelbarrow were among these props that were essential to their respective sets. The costuming was also quite good – the favorite aspect of many was the sheep hats, made by Elizabeth Berumen-Gonzalez ’19, that were used by a few actors to present sheep during conversations between Silvius and Corin.

Additionally, the play had quite a lot of double casting. The characters of Adam and Silvius, Amiens and Audrey, Le Beau, Phebe, First Lord, and Forester, Corin, Sir Oliver Martext, Second Lord, and Forester, Charles, William, Jacques de Bois, and Forester, and Duke Senior and Duke Frederick were all double casted. The actor who played Duke Senior and Duke Frederick (Kendall Byrd ’17) was especially impressive due to the sheer amount of work that was needed for each role.

Overall, the play was wonderful and the audience loved the performance. A few people mentioned that the original vernacular was much easier to understand then they had thought it would be. All of the actors were spectacular and the production team did a wonderful job on the performance.

Experiencing 80’s Night at Erdman and Hafner Dining Halls

By Diana Pope, Staff Writer

On Wednesday, Nov. 9, Bryn Mawr College’s Erdman and Hafner Dining Halls hosted a festive 80’s night dinner filled with fried chicken, MTV music videos, and a whole array of desserts. Students couldn’t help but smile when they walked into the nostalgic and bittersweet celebration of this decade.

Ray Bevidas, manager at Erdman Dining Hall, was the mastermind beind this themed dinner.  He stated that the goal of the night was to allow students to have a good time, especially after an emotional election season. His main intention was to create a stress-free environment for the Bryn Mawr community.

Erdman and Hafner Dining Halls were filled with many decorations to commemorate the 80’s. Students could see throwback posters of popular movies such as “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “Pretty in Pink.” There were also jukeboxes and cassette tapes along the walls as additional decorations. Bevidas said that decorating was his favorite part of planning this dinner because he grew up in the 80’s and wanted to add as much color and neon as possible.

The entrees during this night were top-notch. The most popular foods of the night included the pizza bagels and sloppy joes. Bevidas picked these choices because he wanted the food to resemble what it would feel like to be in an 80’s shopping mall. Erdman also prepared delicious Smurf’s cupcakes with blue food coloring and chocolate chips. Another favorite was were the Reese’s Pieces, symbolic of the popular 80’s movie ”E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.”

Along with the creative decorations and delicious food, the dining hall managers also chose to play 80’s music videos from artists such as Michael Jackson and MC Hammer. Bevidas thanked Michael Winston for “tirelessly putting together CDs of MTV music videos for this event”. He wanted to include music from multiple genres including dance, electronic and rap

Bevidas stated that Erdman Dining Hall will definitely host more themed dinners in the future. He’s looking forward to helping out with the holiday dinner for “Marvel vs. DC” and may plan another themed dinner in February. Dining hall workers felt happy after seeing the turnout for this festive night.

The Borromeo Quartet Showcases a New Side of the Old

By Chloe Lindeman, Co-Editor-in-Chief

You might expect a group that reads its music on sleek laptop computers to favor contemporary music over classical sonatas. And although the Borromeo Quartet featured the works of three classic composers in its concert at Haverford College on Friday, Nov. 11, the music was hardly business as usual.

Violinists Nicholas Kitchen and Kristopher Tong, violist Mai Motobuchi and cellist Yeesun Kim,  each having had experiences playing  with some of the world’s greatest musicians, came together on stage  for a night of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.

Of the three quartets performed, Haydn’s String Quartet No. 2 in F major was the most traditional. As the opening piece, it gave listeners a chance to acquaint themselves with the group. The first violin and cello carried the melody line, yet the whole group was actively engaged throughout. Kitchen and Tong were placed opposite each other, in a relatively uncommon arrangement for string quartets today, giving the audience a clear view of both violinists’ emotive body language as they played.

The group was not afraid of silence. Throughout the concert, they took full advantage of pauses in the music, refusing to rush forward into the next theme.

Mozart’s String Quartet No. 19 in C major, aptly named “Dissonance,” brought to light a side of the composer you’ve likely never heard. Although certain parts conformed more closely to the classical master’s style, there was always the promise of a deviation to unexpected material. Rather than shying away from these surprising moments, the Borromeo Quartet dug in and emphasized Mozart’s use of new ideas.

The final piece, Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp minor, had some forward-thinking themes of its own. From the first movement, a dark fugue, to the final, racing allegro, the Borromeo maintained the high intensity of the piece. The quartet was written just a year before Beethoven’s death and is considered one of his most mature works.

One of the group’s strengths lay in the skillful interplay between parts. Though trading of melodies was at times limited to the first violin and the cello, in other instances Beethoven made sure each of the instruments was on equal footing, and the Borromeo Quartet allowed each of its members to shine.

The group’s dynamic range was also striking. From fortissimos fortified by the excitement of the players, to pianissimos softer than most quartets would dare to play, the quartet ventured to the extremes, and the result was a treat for the audience.

Deconstructed: A Week of Afro-Caribbean Celebration

By Nina Inman, Staff Writer

Last week, the Bryn Mawr African & Caribbean Students Organization (BACaSo), organized a week devoted to Afro-Caribbean culture. The finale? A culture show called “Deconstructed.”

BACaSO faced various challenges putting the show and week together. Farida Ilboudo (’18) explained that much of the Bryn Mawr student body seems uninterested in BACaSO’s events.

“Afro-Carib week started on Monday and today is Wednesday and nobody knows. We had a film screening and nobody showed up… We do so much and we have so much fun with each other but no one comes.”

From a campus that claims to be culturally understanding and accepting, this was disheartening to members of BACaSO, who work hard to organize the event every year. Regardless, Ilboudo said, “We don’t care if people show up. It’s the reality we live in. This is for us.”

“Deconstructed” displayed elements of Afro-Caribbean culture through fashion shows of dance and singing, modern and traditional clothing and a drumming performance. The show attempted to deconstruct Afro-Caribbean culture in order to illustrate and celebrate its complexities. At the same time, it worked to bring together students and community members from a variety of countries.

After election night, the culture show took on an additional role: unifying and encouraging the student body against a president-elect that many have accused of blatant bigotry. “The road ahead is long and unpredictable but we will continue to fight for what we deserve, break stereotypes and have equal opportunity,” BACaSO posted on their Facebook page.

The event further attempted to unify the audience by giving a presentation on Black Lives Matter and the oppression of some elements of Afro-Caribbean culture. The crowd joined hands to represent how they would stand together against violence and hate. This was followed by an energetic performance by Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble.

BACaSO was happy with the turnout and audience’s response to the show. Aisha Soumaoro (‘20), a fashion model, said, “A lot of people came out to support the culture show. The crowd was very energetic. It felt like a supportive environment.”