Through February 2 Boston University Theater 264 Huntington Ave., Boston $25-$99, 617-266-0800 www.huntingtontheatre.org
In case you were wondering, this isn’t an adaptation of the famous erotic novel “Venus in Furs”, but a play about the making of an adaptation of “Venus in Furs”. Vanda, an actress, gives such a good audition for the lead dominatrix role that it stops being clear where the line between fiction and reality lies in her relationship with the director.
Through February 9 Central Square Theater 450 Mass. Ave., Cambridge $42-$56, 866-811-4111 www.centralsquaretheater.org
This play takes place in a New York City hotel in 1953, where characters suspiciously resembling Joe McCarthy, Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio and Albert Einstein interact, not always peacefully. But the Nora Theater Company’s synopsis, suggesting a theme of the danger of the cult of celebrity, makes us wonder if who they aren’t is just as important as who they are.
Friday and January 26 Harvard Film Archive 24 Quincy St., Cambridge $7-$9, 617-495-4700 hcl.harvard.edu/hfa
This psychologically rich 1979 film by Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky takes place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland with a cordoned-off area called “The Zone”, said to give life to the fantasies of those who enter. We follow a tour guide, Stalker, as he leads two clients there—what will they find, if anything? And will they be able to handle it?
FreePort [No. 007]: Celeste Boursier-Mougenot
Saturday through April 13 Peabody Essex Museum 161 Essex St., Salem $10-$18, 866-745-1876 www.pem.org
French artist Celeste Boursier-Mougenot entry in the Peabody Essex Museum’s FreePort series consists of a gallery containing a flock of 70 zebra finches and a bunch of electric guitars, plugged-in and ready to rock. The birds’ naturally rhythmic way of moving unwittingly creates some pretty cool ambient/noise music as they flit across the strings, reacting to visitors and each other.
Through January 26 Nave Gallery Annex 53 Chester St., Somerville Free, 617-259-8386 www.navegallery.org
The humble cartoon gets its rightful due as a honest-to-goodness art form for this exhibition, co-curated by locally based children’s book illustrator Jef Czekaj, who, for all you 90’s nostalgia junkies, used to do a comic called “Grampa and Julie: Shark Hunters” in Nickelodeon Magazine. The artists here show how cartoons can be much more than just, well, doodles.
Thursday through Sunday Laugh Boston 425 Summer St., $20-$25, 21+, 617-725-2844 www.laughboston.com
This New Jersey native shamelessly admits to being a “guido”, and his jokes about them are all the funnier for this inside perspective—he knows where they live (usually it’s with their parents still). Physical humor is a highlight of his act—his bit on going to the roller rink as a teenager, complete with spot-on pantomiming, is priceless.
Smart alek comedian Kevin Seefried hosts this show, a veritable box of comedy chocolates featuring stand-ups Ryan Donahue, Emily Ruskowski, Steve McConnon, Dan Boulger, Alingon Mitra, Bret Ossinoff and Tim Dillon. Because this is the Berklee College of Music, there’s a house band as well, led by singer-songwriter George Woods.
The Big Quiz Thing
Through March 10 Oberon 2 Arrow St., Cambridge Free, 617-547-8300 www.cluboberon.com
All those bar trivia nights have prepared you for this monthly quiz night in the style of a classic game show, complete with buzzers and the obligatory “Lightning Round”. The grand prize is $200 in cash, and runners-up are also compensated. Questions are trivia buff strength, but you can be awarded “Smart Ass Points” for wrong but clever answers.
Friday, 8 p.m. Center for Arts at the Armory 191 Highland Ave., Somerville $10, 617-718-2191 www.artsatthearmory.org
This local musician and writer will share both his talents for this show, performing songs with assorted guests as well as reading from his novel “Next Big Thing”, a fictionalized account of the early 80’s Boston rock scene he participated in with his band Loose Ties. The prolific Kitchen has been busy ever since, with several solo albums under his belt.
Cosmic Loops: Music Beneath the Stars
Thursday, 7 p.m. Museum of Science 1 Science Park, Boston $15, 617-723-2500 www.mos.org
Art and science come together in this show, which pairs cosmic planetarium imagery with the loop-based sounds of experimental guitarist Ethan Case and his Open Land Trio. This kind of music starts simple and grows in complexity, just as the Universe has, and giving it a sort of harmonic connection with the images of deep space being projected. Pretty cool, huh?
Oliver Mtukudzi is a husky-voiced Zimbabwean singer-songwriter who’s crafted his own sound, bouncy and uplifting but not blithely so—take a song like “Hear Me Lord”, which mixes a happy groove with a melancholic lament to God in the lyrics. It’s a different way of singing the blues: sing how you feel, play how want to feel.
Friday through Monday Westin Boston Waterfront 425 Summer St., Boston $10-$65, firstname.lastname@example.org 2014.arisia.org
Arisia is an annual, fully fan-organized sci-fi and fantasy convention, with a focus more on the community than celebrity guests, who are few, and relatively minor. There are art shows, film screenings, a masquerade ball, lots of gaming and everything else you’ve come to expect from such a gathering. Note: pre-registration is over, so you’ll have to get your pass at the door.
Swear and Shake
Friday, 9 p.m. Great Scott 1222 Comm. Ave., Allston $10, 18+, 800-745-3000 www.ticketmaster.com
This New York band have a pleasant, folksy indie pop sound, grounded in the understated soulfulness of lead singer Kari Spieler. They’re very much traditionalists, with their banjo lines and gentle bluegrass-ish shuffling rhythms, part of wider movement of indie musicians seeking a re-connection rather than a radical break with the roots of American music.
The Southern Belles
Friday, 7:30 p.m. The Middle East Upstairs 472 Mass. Ave., Cambridge $10-$12, 21+, 866-777-8932 www.ticketweb.com
The Southern Belles’ sound is a very cool mix of a down-home southern rock and a jam band’s sense of jazz-fusion adventurousness. It’s not a novel combination—the Allman Brothers pretty much invented it—but the Southern Belles take up the torch and push it into new dimensions, favoring the jazz side over the roots side.
Friday, 7 p.m. The Paradise 967 Comm. Ave., Boston $20, 800-745-3000 www.ticketmaster.com
It seems like some white rappers insecurely oscillate between being harmlessly clownish and excessively serious—Macklemore’s shift from silly novelty (“Thift Shop”) to naive “message” music (“Same Love”) is good recent example. Action Bronson get things just right—he’s got healthy sense of humor but he’s also a totally serious, classic MC, unashamed to just be his big, bearded self.