Here’s what to do in Boston this weekend


Quartet of Happiness


Friday, 6 p.m.
Shady Hill School
178 Coolidge Hill, Cambridge
Free, 617-482-2595

This jazz ensemble, consisting of two saxes, bass and drums, do much more than just play jazz. They compare their comedic, even absurdist show to the theatrical oddities of the Blue Man Group. Their mission is to put the fun back in jazz, which, though it was once the party music of a generation, can all too often be a stiff intellectual sport today.



Thursday through Saturday
Cutler Majestic Theater
219 Tremont St., Boston
$15-$20, 617-824-8000

Emerson students perform this early Rogers and Hammerstein musical from 1945. Based on a Hungarian play, it tells the story of a carnival barker and a factory worker whose romance causes them to lose both their jobs and turn to crime—but not without the chance for redemption. Is takeaway tune is the inspirational “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.

Reverse Cascade

Thursday through Saturday
Puppet Showplace Theater
32 Station St., Brookline
$15, 617-731-6400 ext. 101 

This found object puppet show by Anna Fitzgerald is about Judy Finelli, a circus juggler whose career seemed cut short by a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis—that is, until she made a triumphant comeback. It will be accompanied by a talk from opera singer Barbara Quintiliani and an art exhibit by Marguerite McDonald, both of whom also have MS.

Lebensraum [Habitat]


Through Sunday
Paramount Center
559 Washington St., Boston
$25-$69, 617-824-8400

Dutch creative force Jakob Ahlbom joins forces with fellow countrymen, the indie rock band Alamo Race Track, to present this live silent film inspired by Buster Keaton and loaded with classic slapstick zaniness and more than a few “what the heck?” stunts. It ought to be one of the more purely kinetic delights of this year’s theater season.


Dirty Donkey Kong

Saturday and Sunday
Laugh Boston
425 Summer St., Boston
$10, 617-725-2844

Coinciding with the video game festival PAX East, this raunchy improv and sketch comedy show is all about gaming. A prize will go to the audience member with the best cosplay costume, and admission gets you entry into a raffle to win an XBOX. Don’t like the XBOX? Well, you can always just smash it. That’s what Donkey Kong would do, right?



Tuesday, 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Brattle Theater
40 Brattle St., Cambridge
$8-$10, 617-876-6837

Terry Gilliam’s classic 1985 dystopian fantasy takes place in a grey, endlessly urban bureaucratic nightmare England where there’s a never-ending cascade of forms to be filled out for even the simplest matters and a simple typographic error leads to a comically Kafkaesque ordeal for our hapless hero. Gilliam’s visual imagination dazzles, wringing enchantment even out of this dehumanized Orwellian universe.


Sunday, 11 a.m.
Coolidge Corner Theater
290 Harvard St., Brookline
$5, 617-734-2500 

Goethe-Institut presents this 2013 film from German director Christian Alvart, a hybrid crime drama/romance about a mild-mannered middle class woman in 1960’s West Germany who falls for a bank robber, inaugurating her transformation from good girl to sexy heist accomplice and tabloid celebrity—a one-woman symbol of the sexual and social revolution that’s become synonymous with the era.


Keith MacClelland


Through May 31
Hynes Convention Center
900 Boylston St., Boston
Free, 802-558-7399

These collage creatures by illustrator Keith McClelland are a mix of the American cowboy with the Mexican luchador—and a lot more besides. With their manic energy and style, they seem like the heroes of a lost Cartoon Network series. But one can also read in their fragmented composition a commentary on the illusory nature of archetypes—heroic or otherwise.

Geometry of Nature—Paintings by C.J. Phu

CJ Phu

Through June 3
Multicultural Arts Center
41 2nd St., Cambridge
Free, 617-577-1400

C.J. Phu’s expressionistic paintings of plants and grassy fields have a tranquil, poetic quality. Rather than choosing to paint exotic flowers he mostly depicts the everyday seedy wildflowers you’d find in any backyard, and they shoot up from his brush with a humble beauty. In their very normality, these scenes provoke the viewer’s own recollections—you can almost feel the breeze rustling through.


Life Unlived: A Dream

Friday and Saturday
The Dance Complex
536 Mass. Ave., Cambridge
$20, 978-475-4269

Local company DeadFall Dance, led by choreographer Judith Wombwell, will perform Wombwell’s new work “Life Unlived” as well as “Flow”, a piece from another company, Dance on Camera, which has never been performed in Boston. Formed by Wombwell to express a more experimental mode of choreography, DeadFall offers highly conceptual fare exploring philosophy and humanity’s interactions with nature.



Friday, 10 p.m.
Great Scott
1222 Comm. Ave., Boston
$12, 21+, 800-745-3000

This gloomy, Toronto-based synth-pop project, led by the cooly apathetic, nasal-voiced singer Robert Alfons, is strictly retro 80’s fare, but it’s no mindless pastiche. Trust actually sounds like a great lost band from the 80’s, and fronted by a sexy vampire to boot—though, to be fair, any band worth its salt in the 80’s was fronted by a sexy vampire.


Friday, 10 p.m.
Middle East Corner
480 Mass. Ave., Cambridge
$5, 21+, 866-777-8932

With just an electric violin, a set of hand drums, and a bunch of effects boxes, this self-described “technocratic” instrumental duo create a host of sounds that come together in an international fusion of styles that truly has the right to be called “world music.” Say what you want about the coming technocracy, but at least it’ll have dope beats.


Sunday, 7 p.m.
The Paradise
967 Comm. Ave., Boston
$18, 18+, 800-745-3000

A sample-happy wizard of a DJ/producer based in Philadelphia, RJD2 is probably best known for “A Beautiful Mine”, a track of his that was used as the anachronistic but strangely appropriate theme for “Mad Men”. His most recent album, 2013’s  “More Is than Isn’t”, is typical kaleidoscopic fare, pulling together everything from jazz to soul to hard rock riffs.


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