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To Do: August 822, 2018

Twenty-five things to see, hear, watch, and read.

1. Watch Insecure
Issa’s back!
Emmy nominee Issa Rae returns in the third season of the HBO comedy, in which her character — also named Issa — is dealing with bigger work and relationship problems (What’s going on with Daniel?) than usual, but still, thankfully, bantering with her best friend Molly (Yvonne Orji). —Jen Chaney
HBO, August 12.

2. See Head Over Heels
Heaven, methinks, is a place on Earth!
Who knew combining the unstoppable beat of the Go-Go’s with Sir Philip Sidney’s romantically wackadoodle Elizabethan prose drama Arcadia would work on Broadway? Well, apparently, Jeff Whitty, one of the creators of Avenue Q, did. The new musical he co-wrote is a colorful, quirky, silly-sexy romp. If you’re preemptively mourning the closing of SpongeBob SquarePants, this delightfully daffy story of two princesses finding themselves and true love while their dopey dad tries to avoid a dire prophecy might just put the spring back in your step. —Sara Holdren
Hudson Theatre, 141 West 44th Street.

3. See The Spy Who Dumped Me
Mission: Impeccable.
Watching Kate McKinnon in the frenetic action comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me, you understand her peculiar genius. She’s not an actress, not even a conventional clown. She’s a runaway imp machine, glassy-eyed and rote, but driven by a kind of dementia. Director Susanna Fogel does a terrific job with the first half and loses the pulse in the second (star Mila Kunis is a lightweight), but you’ll want to see this for the force that is McKinnon.—David Edelstein
In theaters.

Classical Music
4. Hear In the Name of the Earth
A world premiere.
Manhattan might seem like a counterintuitive place for a composer as immersed in wilderness as John Luther Adams. But Adams, who has spent much of his career in the Sonoran Desert and on an Alaskan ridge, turns out to have a feeling for urban nature, too. His latest megawork summons 800 professional and amateur singers to the Harlem Meer for a wraparound meditation on our fragile home. —Justin Davidson
Central Park, August 11.

5. Watch Making It
Reality television with Parks and Rec vibes.
If Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson hosted a reality series, it would look a lot like this one. Which makes sense since Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman, the actors who played those characters on Parks and Recreation, are hosts and executive producers of this charming crafting competition. —J.C.

6. Go to The Breeders and Speedy Ortiz
’90s alt-rock returns.
The Breeders began as a side project for singer-bassist Kim Deal of the Pixies and airtight hooks made her 1993 single “Cannonball” an alt-rock radio staple. Catch them touring behind this year’s tart, sweet reunion album All Nerve, with the Massachusetts quartet Speedy Ortiz, whose great new album, Twerp Verse, is already landing them spots on shows with the Foo Fighters and Dinosaur Jr. —Craig Jenkins
Prospect Park Bandshell, August 11.

7. Read The Tangled Tree
Are you my mother?
The most powerful scientific theories have a way of fossilizing in the public imagination — like Darwin’s idea of evolution as a neatly branching tree. David Quammen gives a detailed but never boring tour (embedded with vivid profiles) of what turns out to be not a tree but a web, in which genetic material can cross between unrelated organisms that barely interact, much less mate. What emerges is a newly complicated sense of where we came from (not just Mom and Dad). —Boris Kachka
Simon & Schuster, August 14.

8. See All Over the Moon
Abstraction at its best.
This great gallery’s summer show, curated by artist Jack Pierson, is breathtaking and features three soon-to-be first-rank painters: Laurel Sparks, Lily Stockman, and Richard Tinkler. Sparks and Stockman are stellar colorists, and Tinkler’s lit-up, loosely geometric canvases radiate visionary intelligence that transforms into optical magic carpets to expansive shores. —Jerry Saltz
Cheim & Read, 547 West 25th Street, through August 30.

9. See Mark Morris Dance Group
The “most musical” choreographer alive.
Mark Morris has a feel for musical lyricism, rhythm, and phrasing that few choreographers can match, and his dancers always perform with live musicians. The company returns to Mostly Mozart with two classics — I Don’t Want to Love, set to Monteverdi madrigals, and Love Song Waltzes (a literal translation of Brahms’s Liebeslieder-Walzer) — plus a brand-new setting of Schubert’s Trout Quintet.—J.D.
Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center, August 9 to 12.

10. See Fred Wilson
Reimagining the exhibition.
In the early 1990s, the MacArthur-grant winner Fred Wilson was among a handful of artists of color who created the widely influential modern genre of the exhibition as an archaeological-ethnographic-historiographic-activist mini-museum. At Pace, Wilson brings together an array of artists, found objects, and his own dynamic work to generate a sort of indictment-witnessing of cultural appropriation, reappropriation, exploitation, and the trade-routes of modern life. This delving produces frisson, profundity, and a visual music all its own. —J.S.
Pace, 510 West 25th Street, through August 17.

11. Listen to Sweetener
Ariana Grande’s return to music after a terror attack struck her 2017 Manchester Arena gig has been graceful and empowering; recent singles like “No Tears Left to Cry” and “The Light Is Coming” speak abstractly to her fight to wring joy from adversity. The forthcoming Sweetener seems poised to show her mettle as a singer and as a force no act of evil can quell. —C.J.
Republic Records, August 17.

12. Read Putney
A new Lolita?
Set in 1970s bohemian London, Sofka Zinovieff’s novel follows a very problematic relationship remembered decades later from three distinct points of view: Daphne, who was 9 when a young composer entered the home of her novelist father; Ralph, the composer, now dying, who saw Daphne as a muse; and Jane, the friend and witness who prods Daphne (now a single mother after a life of trouble) to see Ralph for what he was — a rapist who scarred her. Zinovieff’s triptych is too nuanced for the hashtag era, yet perfectly attuned to #MeToo. —B.K.
HarperCollins, August 21.

13. Watch Sharknado 6
The end of an era.
After killing sharks all over the world and in all sorts of inclement weather, the intrepid Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering) makes like the Terminator and travels back in time to kill the shark that started the series. Maybe he’ll invent rock ’n’ roll while he’s at it. —Matt Zoller Seitz
Syfy, August 19.

14. Listen to Be the Cowboy
Remember my name.
The Brooklyn indie rocker Mitski is a writer of raw, devastating lyrics and elegant melodies; her 2016 full-length Puberty 2 is one of the best outings in a new class of talented, driven singer-songwriters remaking indie rock in their own image. This summer’s Be the Cowboy is a half-hour blast of short, stunning tunes that invite elements of piano pop and country into Mitski’s palette of biting, wistful guitar rock. —C.J.
Dead Oceans, August 17.

15. See Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Betties
What’s in a name?
Mike Donahue directs Jen Silverman’s unpredictable new comedy in which the lives of different women named Betty collide with strange results. One’s rich, one’s lonely, one’s charismatic, one’s got a broken heart, one’s got a broken truck, and one is working on her very own play in this heady theatrical exploration of rage, love, and “thea-tah.” —S.H.
MCC Theater, August 16 to September 23.

16. See Crazy Rich Asians
Singapore royalty.
Despite his having made two noxious films — the Justin Bieber doc Never Say Never and the flop Jem and the Holograms — there’s reason to look forward to director Jon M. Chu’s souped-up adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s punchy social satire Crazy Rich Asians. Constance Wu plays the economics professor who gets a lesson in conspicuous consumption from the Singapore family of Nick Young (Henry Golding). Let’s hope it’s more a satire than a symptom of shopaholic mania. —D.E.
In theaters August 15.

17. Watch Disenchantment
Fractured Fairy Tales meets Futurama.
This animated Netflix series from Matt Groening of The Simpsons and Futurama fame takes place, not surprisingly, in an un-Disney realm where princesses belch like Barney Gumble and happy little elves have identity crises. In case you weren’t sure whether this one’s for the preschool set, know this: Within the first ten minutes, one of those elves almost gets hanged from a gumball tree. —J.C.
Netflix, August 17.

18. See Henry VI
Games of thrones.
The National Asian-American Theatre Company presents Shakespeare’s brutal political trilogy in two parts (Foreign Wars and Civil Strife), adapted and directed by Stephen Brown-Fried. An all-Asian-American company takes a new look at this story of political intrigue and the erosion of a nation’s moral center as its ruling class devolves into barbarism and cruelty.—S.H.
The Mezzanine Theatre at A.R.T./New York Theatres, 502 West 53rd Street, August 11 to September 8.

19. Listen to Slow Burn
The dream (and nightmare) of the ’90s is alive.
Slate’s political-documentary podcast returns this month for its second season, shifting its attention to another presidential scandal: the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Expect overlooked side stories and semi-forgotten characters (Linda Tripp! Lucianne Goldberg!) and excessive use of the -gate suffix (Filegate! Travelgate! Nannygate!).
iTunes, August 8.

20. Watch François Truffaut
The auteur theorist.
“Truffaut x 7” at Metrograph is a good way to see some of his lesser-known films. Skip The Bride Wore Black — proof that however slavish his Hitchcock ardor, Truffaut was a humanist first. But Mississippi Mermaid with Catherine Deneuve and Jean-Paul Belmondo is fascinating for how it leaves Cornell Woolrich’s crime novel behind, relaxing into a portrait of amour fou. And The Wild Child (with Truffaut as a doctor studying a boy reared in the forest) and The Story of Adele H (with a startling Isabelle Adjani) are inarguable late masterpieces. —D.E.
Metrograph, August 15 to 22.

21. Listen to Blonde Again
A sign of the times.
In 2016, Frank Ocean released one of the best albums of the year: Blonde. This summer, his 17-track sophomore record has been quietly certified platinum, which comes as no real surprise. In May, the serialized music podcast Dissect devoted half a season to the critically acclaimed album, whose ambient post-R&B songs are rich with cinéma vérité, owing to listener demand.
Boys Don’t Cry.

22. Hear Salieri’s La Cifra
Via Vienna.
Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus turned composer Antonio Salieri into a famous villain, but to Mozart’s genius librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte he was just another writing partner. Da Ponte banged together four librettos in 1789, including Mozart’s immortal Così Fan Tutte. The small but hardy Dell’Arte Opera Ensemble resurrects another of that year’s hits, Salieri’s tale of love amid the Scottish moors. —J.D.
La MaMa, 66 East 4th Street, August 18, 22, and 24.

23. See Trevor Noah
The Daily Show joker, Born a Crime author, and New York transplant tells his truths in the city’s newest rooftop venue, with the Brooklyn Bridge as background.
Pier 17, August 12.

24. See Mike Birbiglia
Sold out across the country.
It’s been a decade since Mike Birbiglia’s Sleepwalk With Me (later turned into a book and a film) launched his reputation as a deceptively meandering teller of finely tuned tales. He has yet to run out of stories, but he may have run out of names: His latest is called The New One.
Cherry Lane Theater, through August 26.

25. See Wimps
Punk rock for garbage people.
Ever thought about eating other people’s pizza? The Wimps certainly have. On “O.P.P.” (shout out to Naughty by Nature), off their latest album, Garbage People, the Seattle trio (Rachel Ratner, Matt Nyce, and David Ramm) dedicate a little more than two minutes to singing about the idea. Cheesy as that sounds, these lighthearted punks make music that gets stuck in your head.
Berlin NYC, August 10; Alphaville Brooklyn, August 11.