- - Thursday, March 8, 2012

Pick of the pack

Book discussions: Noam Scheiber, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann

Every election season inspires at least one book that captures the entire Beltway’s attention and grips it like a six-car pileup. For 2008, it was “Game Change,” Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s semi-sordid expose of drama in the John McCain campaign and the Democratic presidential primaries. An HBO adaptation of the book has given Mr. Heilemann and Mr. Halperin cause to rehash their gossip reporting four years later at the National Press Club. Meanwhile, the race for the political thriller of 2012 is heating up with Noam Scheiber’s “The Escape Artists,” a tick-tock narrative about the Obama administration’s attempts to balance stimulating the economy with reducing the deficit (neither of which it did all that well, as the first approach doesn’t work, and the second is contingent on the first having not happened).

• “Game Change” Friday at the Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

Phone: 888/639-7386

Web: www.newseum.org

• “The Escape Artists,” Friday at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW

Phone: 202/364-1919

Web: www.politics-prose.com

Film series: ‘The Plasticity of the Moment’

“The Plasticity of the Moment” features a spate of short films that anticipate our current picture-obsessed moment. Two in particular closely resemble contemporary photography memes. In 1976’s “Transformation by Holding Time,” a photographer snaps Polaroids of a nude model and lines them in a window sill until the screen is nothing but Polaroids. Once an ungainly and inconvenient means of capturing the moment, snap-and-shake nostalgia nevertheless has inspired editing programs that can make digital images look like, well, funky old Polaroids. In “200,000 Phantoms,” released in 2007, roughly 600 photos of Hiroshima - pre- and postnuclear bomb, as well as contemporary day - are juxtaposed to show the depths of the city’s devastation and the miracle of its rehabilitation. In an eerie twist, journalists constructed similar before-and-after slide shows after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Monday at Goethe-Institut, 812 Seventh St. NW

Phone: 202/289-1200

Web: www.goethe.de/

Concert: Jon Anderson

In a video interview last year, former Yes lead singer Jon Anderson claimed the band literally left him for dead. “I got very sick on that last tour,” Mr. Anderson said, his high-pitched voice exuding sorrow. “I almost died. I just wanted to have a break.” Mr. Anderson’s departure from the band (for the second time, or perhaps the third; who knows anymore?), while crushing for fans of the original (and best) Yes lineup, proved advantageous for the former frontman, as he wanted to get back to songwriting, and Yes’ management in 2008 wanted only to tour. “Nothing on Open,” Mr. Anderson’s four-part opus, is as good as 1971’s “Roundabout,” but the grandfather of prog still can rock a mean falsetto.

Sunday, at the Hamilton, 600 14th St. NW

Phone: 202/787-1000

Web: www.thehamiltondc.com

Theater: ‘12 Angry Men’

Sidney Lumet’s “12 Angry Men” is one of a handful of cinematic classics that can be adapted easily to the stage. The story of a lone juror who convinces his 11 cohorts, most of whom are set on handing down a guilty verdict for murder one, to spare the accused’s life largely takes place in one room. There are no car chases, no bar brawls and no gunfights. The only traveling is done across psychological distances, from conviction to doubt. There is, however, quite a bit of talking. Which is why the wealth of dialogue, and the absence of powerhouse lead Henry Fonda, will present the cast at Keegan Theatre with a far greater challenge than proper set pieces and wardrobe.

Through March 25 at Keegan Theatre, 1742 Church St. NW

Web: www.keegantheatre.com

Concert: Go for Baroque

There are no shortage of baroque jokes, as demonstrated by Grace Episcopal Church’s billing of an upcoming concert featuring flutist Wilbert Hazelzet, harpsichordist Jacques Ogg and cellist Jaap ter Linden. In addition to the popular, “If it ain’t baroque, don’t fix it,” there’s also “This phone is baroque. Please call Bach later!” and “Baroque music is a bunch of Scheidt.” Samuel Scheidt and Johann Sebastian Bach, if they can hear these jokes in heaven, likely are chuckling. Not only have they have outlived their contemporaries, they’ve also found a foothold in the Internet age. Now if Grace Episcopal can just pack its pews for a performance of their music.

Sunday at Grace Episcopal Church, 6507 Main St., The Plains, Va.

Phone: 540/253-5177.

Web: www.gracetheplains.org

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