Weekend Picks: "Isle of Dogs" and "Noises Off"
"Isle of Dogs"
Saturday and Sunday at the Nugget Theater
“Isle of Dogs” is another strong entry to the Wes Anderson oeuvre. Gorgeously rendered in stop-motion animation, the story takes off when the authoritarian mayor of Megasaki orders all dogs in the city quarantined to garbage-strewn Trash Island. Atari, the mayor’s nephew and ward, travels there to rescue his dog Spots, getting help from other canines along the way. Anderson’s familiar troupe of actors voices the furry main characters, enriched by several additions, particularly Bryan Cranston, who fills out a strong role as Chief. The film’s ideas, in which a large and powerful group ostracizes and pushes aside a smaller group, feel timely in an increasingly tribal political atmosphere. At times, Anderson’s work treads a fine line between cultural appreciation and appropriation that is sure to endear some viewers and alienate others. But ultimately, “Isle of Dogs” is a way to let Anderson’s imagination off the leash, and viewers are better for it. -Evan Morgan
Saturday and Sunday at Northern Stage’s Barrette Center for the Arts
While the play within a play literary device has been done countless times, the acutely self-aware humor in Michael Frayn’s “Noises Off” successfully tells the story of a troupe of British actors that are so bad, they’re good. Currently being performed at Northern Stage’s Barrette Center for the Arts in White River Junction, the comedy depicts actors putting on a play called “Nothing On” in a lurid, mock-Tudor style country house. Each run of the “sex farce” gets more and more disastrous. As if the dysfunctional dress rehearsal in Act I couldn’t be bad enough, in Act II the audience watches the chaos bleed into backstage as the actors’ romantic rivalries play out. Act III is set up as if the audience is watching the last performance of “Nothing On,” and sure enough, things get even worse — at one point, a character questions if the actors are even using the script. “Noises Off” plays on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and on through early May. -Betty Kim