LASHED BUT NOT LEASHED (Martha Graham Cracker): A dilettante at large sees the new revue

marthagraham-v44Martha Graham Cracker (aka Dito von Reigersberg) is back in Philly for only three shows, so be quick, because this cabaret is fabulous. In a skimpy silver sparkle dress, flashing her wit (best show title ever) as well as her hairy shoulders and knockout voice, MGC croons and belts and rocks, sometimes melancholy, sometimes outraged, often funny and always charming.

This is an old-fashioned cabaret with  a bunch of new songs she wrote and is planning to work into a debut album: lost love, loneliness, new beginnings. Most surprising is her announced decision to leave the “razzledazzle roller-coaster that is show business” and go to graduate school for library science. She adores books, and sprinkles references to Kafka and Steinbeck and recites a sonnet by Wordsworth. Best notion of the evening: “nominative determinism” made Wordsworth a poet. Best spelling pun of the evening, “Tomorrow I’ll be swimming with the microfiche.” 

She creates a childhood for MCG (“I was a bookish little girl…”), adding a layer to the fiction her adoring and rambunctious audience (“it’s like trying to put children to bed”) is watching.

There is a terrific onstage band and David Sweeny provides a duet partner and a variety of backup with a harmonica. All told, it’s a knockout of an evening. And if you go, you can BYOB.

[Innovation Studio at the Kimmel Center, Broad & Spruce Streets] March 14-16, 2019;  kimmelcenter.org

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About the author

Toby Zinman

Toby Zinman is Professor of English at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was a Fulbright professor at Tel Aviv University and a visiting professor in China. She publishes widely and lectures internationally on American drama. Her fifth book, Replay: Classic Modern Drama Reimagined, was recently published by Methuen, and she has just finished an essay, "Visions of Tragedy in Contemporary American Drama," due out in 2017. Zinman is also the chief theater critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer where she reviews New York and London as well as Philadelphia. She was named by American Theatre magazine as, “one of the 12 most influential critics in America.” Her travel writing has taken her all over the world, from dogsledding in the Yukon to hiking across England.