- - Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pick of the Pack

For children: Sleight of hand and espionage

In 1953, the famous American magician John Mulholland suspended publication of the country’s oldest conjuring magazine, the Sphinx, and retreated from public view. He told readers it was because of his health. In reality, Mulholland was busy with his new job at the CIA. What did an intelligence agency want with a sleight-of-hand artist? Like all magicians, Mulholland was a master in the art of deception, and the success of his shows depended on convincing lies, subtle misdirections and rapport with skeptics — basically, everything a spy needs to know. Mulholland wrote two manuals for the CIA, in one of which he wrote that “even more practice is needed to act a lie skillfully than is required to tell one.” At the International Spy Museum, magician Peter Wood will build on Mulholland’s foundation with a magic show that focuses on the relationship between conjuring and espionage. The show is recommended for children age 7 and older.

Saturday at the International Spy Museum, 800 F St., NW

Phone: 202/393-7798

Web: www.spymuseum.org

Comedy: Kinky Friedman

Former Texas gubernatorial candidate and lifelong Jewish troubadour Kinky Friedman is on a “bipolar” comedy tour. What makes him so crazy? Twenty-five dates in 25 nights, for starters. Or perhaps it’s the amount of time Kinky spent in the company of Billy Bob Thornton, himself a famed crazy man, working on the mustard-and-biscuits-loving “Slingblade” actor’s biography, “The Billy Bob Tapes: A Cave Full of Ghosts.” Then again, Kinky generally is about as crazy as a sprayed roach, even when he’s not bolting from Massachusetts to New York to New Jersey to Virginia in a matter of days.

Monday at the Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, Va.

Phone: 703/549-7500

Web: www.birchmere.com

Theater: ‘Bobby Gould in Hell’

David Mamet’s conversion from Hollywood liberal to red-meat conservative is a little less surprising when you look back at his oeuvre, particularly “Bobby Gould in Hell.” Gould (played by Slice Hicks) is a decent enough guy who lives an honest enough life, or so he thinks until he’s summoned to hell for an interview. His interrogator (Anthony van Eyck) plays Gould — who is nice, maybe, but not all that bright — like a fiddle. Over the course of the one-act play, Gould’s assumptions about himself, what he believes and what kind of life he has led are subjected to fire and brimstone. Eventually, another interrogator arrives in the form of his jilted ex. Gould escapes the experience a wiser, if more cynical, man, an early glimpse of Mr. Mamet’s own transformation two decades later.

Through Saturday at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, 545 Seventh St., SE

Phone: 301/897-8411

Web: www.americanensemble.org

Concert: Violinist Yevgeny Kutik

Move over, Joshua Bell, there’s a new hot young violinist on the American scene. Yevgeny Kutik, a 24-year-old Russian-American who moved from Russia to Massachusetts as a child, plays a very different kind of violin, with an older, more ominous and vibrato-laden tone than his contemporaries play. On dark songs, it is terrifying. On light songs, it is perfectly plaintive. The raven-haired Mr. Kutik plays with soul and a hint of madness — during a performance of Shostakovich’s Concerto No. 1, Mr. Kutik swings around on his hips like a toy and can barely stand in one place. He’ll be accompanied at this weekend’s performance by pianist Timothy Bozarth, with whom Mr. Kutik has played for years and who is a virtuoso in his own right.

Friday at the Embassy of Luxembourg, 2200 Massachusetts Ave., NW

Phone: 202/625-2361

Web: www.embassyseries.org

Festival: DC Jazz Fest

The D.C. Jazz Festival is in full swing, which means you can catch great jazz acts at venues all over the District. There are student concerts as well as master concerts, stuff for the whole family and stuff just for jazz heads. While there’s a whole calendar to choose from, we recommend the Peter Edelman Trio. The group performs regularly at Columbia Station in Adams Morgan, which means that if you like the trio during Jazz Fest, you can catch it again after the fest is over. Also: Lena Seikaly, because there’s a reason she’s sung with half the bands in town.

Through Sunday

Web: dcjazzfest.org

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