The Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets is Christmas counter-programming at its best. Based on a bleak German folktale, it tells the story of how Wilhelm makes a deal with the devil to become a hunter and win the hand of his beloved, and how things go wrong from there. As my co-host Jeffrey Edalatpour says, if Bright Star (at the Curran) is an affirmation of family and marriage, Black Rider is its infernal opposite: a declaration that the devil’s going to hunt you down.
The Black Rider has a complicated history. Beat-era writer William S. Burroughs wrote the book, Sonoma’s Tom Waits did the songs, and it was staged by avant-garde director Robert Wilson. Mark Jackson directs this Shotgun production as a kind of circus sideshow. The songs are especially striking under the musical guidance of David Möschler of the Awesome Orchestra. And actress Grace Ng is brilliant as Wilhelm — a role that emphasizes her physical and emotional range. Details here