Verdict on new sitcom: dark depiction of real life

Television

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

“Canterbury’s Law”

Fridays at 9 p.m.

FOX

Elizabeth Canterbury, heroine of Fox’s new drama “Canterbury’s Law,” isn’t a prophet like Eli Stone, isn’t immortal like John Amsterdam and doesn’t have superhuman strength like the Bionic Woman. But that’s OK, because Canterbury totally kicks ass at her job – and the result is quality television without all the fantasy fluff.

Canterbury (Julianna Margulies, “The Sopranos”) is a hardnosed attorney who defends the most vile, reprehensible clients – and usually wins. But although she dominates in the courtroom, her tragic personal life constantly takes a toll on her. A failing marriage and a missing child are just some of the issues that Canterbury has to deal with, as well as maintaining her reputation as the city’s most feared public defender.

“Canterbury’s Law” is a dark and cold depiction of a world where people exist only to use one another for information, comfort or sexual gratification. The characters are dynamic, which is to be expected from executive producer Denis Leary, whose other current production, “Rescue Me,” is known for its memorable personalities.

Forget superpowers – “Canterbury’s Law” demands attention because of its realistic characters struggling to master their professional and personal lives.

Dave Reap

Performance Preview

When two worlds collide in African-influenced dance

Les écailles de la mémoire (The Scales of Memory) Urban Bush Women and Compagnie Jant-Bi

At the Power Center for the Performing Arts

Friday, March 28, 8 p.m.

Sat., March 29, 8 p.m.

$10 – $40

At the Conference of Contemporary Art in Florida in 2004 two choreographers met and took a leap of faith. Despite the fact their respective dance companies spoke different languages (one English, one Wolof), worked in far-flung cities (one in Brooklyn, one near Dakar) and functioned under different dance aesthetics (one is all-female, one is all-male), they had work to do together.

The midpoints they found are in athleticism, dance styles that grew organically from African dance traditions and a concern for the concept behind the dancing. UMS’s program and supplementary notes, state that the Urban Bush Women’s idea-driven pieces discuss the enfranchisement of women and the African Diaspora. They’re no shrinking violets – the dancers are athletic and forthright, using their voices and bodies percussively.

The program notes ascribe part of the choreography to the companies themselves: “In collaboration with the dancers.” This seems a natural extension of the facts of how the collaboration came about – with patience and openness, over three years. “Les écailles” covers a lot of ground, thematically discussing memory, love and resistance – and aesthetically, switching up the dancers, styles, costumes and languages often.

Both companies have ample critical acclaim under their belts. Both have received the notable “Bessie” awards. It’s Compagnie Jant-Bi’s debut here and UBW’s first appearance since 1994. The unlikely colaboration should be a fruitful one.

Abigail B. Colodner

Performance Preview

Shaw’s drama comes to life at Walgreen Drama Center

“You Never Can Tell”

At the Walgreen Drama Center

Thursday, April 3 at 7:30 p.m.

Friday, March 28 & April 4 at 8 p.m.

Saturday, March 29 & April 5 at 8 p.m.

Sunday, March 30 & April 6 at 2 p.m.

$9 for students, $24 general admission

This year, the Theatre and Drama department has chosen one of George Bernard Shaw’s lesser-known plays, “You Never Can Tell,” for its annual spring play. The show will run tonight through April 6 at the (Arthur Miller Theatre) Walgreen Drama Center on North Campus.

The play revolves around a mother and her three children who have just returned to England after an 18-year exile in Madeira.

Upon their arrival, the Clandon family meets the rigid social hierarchy of 20th century England with a shock. Suddenly, the absence of the children’s father becomes more visible to society, and their mother – who ended her marriage after leaving England – is hesitant to share with her children their father’s identity. It’s their visit to the dentist that alters their fate when, by coincidence, they meet their father. What ensues is a humorous and witty dialogue as familial relationships are recreated.

This play isn’t just fun and games, though. Shaw’s social commentary reveals itself with themes of child rearing, courtship and families.

“Shaw never wrote anything without social repercussions,” said guest director, Priscilla Lindsay, the associate artistic director at the Indiana Repertory Theatre. “The language of this play and ideas they talk about is what is important.”

The 11 cast members, picked from the 85 who auditioned, began practicing in February with rehearsals six days a week. The intimate space created at the Arthur Miller Theatre lends flexibility to the actors to move about in what Lindsay calls a “transformative space.”

“Their ability to adjust to direction is remarkable for actors, and they do it with not only grace but with skill,” Lindsay said. “They speak Shaw’s words with great facility,”

Priya Bali

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