CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
CHICAGO – Sometimes a strong cast can save weak writing but such is not the case with CBS’s “Made in Jersey,” a show with one of the most charismatic leading ladies of the new season but also some of its weakest plotting. The legal drama of the premiere is so ridiculous, manipulative, and just silly that it’s almost remarkable how watchable the beautiful Janet Montgomery makes the proceedings but she can’t stop the TV jury from convicting for bad writing.
CHICAGO – “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” is a ridiculous program, a mix of pretentious dialogue that thinks its more important than it is, elaborate battle sequences shot in slo-mo to hide the show’s budget, and historical inaccuracies on an epic scale. And yet it’s also remarkably enjoyable. It’s a guilty pleasure program that has developed a rabid following on Starz and should put the network on the map when it comes to original series with the help of an excellent Blu-ray release for the first season.