Murder, gambling, vice and excess all get celebrated this weekend in Houston, but it's totally legit and above board. See what all the Brits are talking about with the outdoor game of CluedUpp, where somebody always gets offed; try to win a trifecta when live thoroughbred racing returns; embrace your resolution failures with an art tribute to vices; and learn how to tell compelling stories of shame and despair with Grown-up Storytime. We've also got a play by brilliant wordsmith Will Eno, a Mayan apocalypse-themed electronica concert and a music-dance mash-up that explores domestic strife. Grab your candlestick from the conservatory and head out for another exciting weekend in the Bayou City.
With Will Eno on script, there's no need for slapstick, gags or tomfoolery to keep the audience enthralled. The playwright proved himself three years ago in The Catastrophic Theatre's Thom Pain (based on nothing), a 75-minute, angst-filled, steam of consciousness stand-up that was smart, snarky and fun. Eno's Wakey, Wakey, about a dying man who grapples with the human need to keep expressing himself even as death draws near, is being presented in Houston in a partnership with Catastrophic, the University of Houston School of Theatre & Dance, and Austin's Hyde Park Theatre. The Austin connection also brings HPT Artistic Director Ken Webster doing double duty as the lead and director. No complaints from us — theater critics there labeled the original production warm, witty, charming and radical. Rebecca Robinson co-stars.
7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays, January 24-February 3, University of Houston, Quintero Theatre, 3351 Cullen, For information, call 713-521-4533 or visit catastrophictheatre.com/production/wakey-wakey, $10 to $75 (pay what you can).
And down the stretch they come. This year's 32-day thoroughbred meet kicks off Friday night at Sam Houston Race Park with all the excitement that comes with live racing, the agony and ecstasy of betting, and some really great deals for food and drink. Get happy with 50 cent brewskis and $2 wine (6 to 9 p.m.), or "pony up" a little more for dining deals: Winner’s Circle Restaurant buffet ($29.95) or make it a date with the Papa John’s Pizza Deal ($25). The doors open as early as 10:30 a.m. for simulcast betting, and the live action begins at 7 p.m. during Opening Day Live Thoroughbred Racing. The 2019 race meet continues Saturday night, but the big news is Sunday's Houston Racing Festival, the premier stakes day of the season, where one lucky fan will walk away with $25,000. Will the odds be in your favor? Insider tip: Hit up the ATM before heading over to the park as all wagers must be made in cash.
7 p.m. January 25-26, 1 p.m. January 27 at Sam Houston Race Park, 7575 North Sam Houston Parkway West, 281-807-8700, shrp.com, free to $8.
No guilt trips here. If those New Year's resolutions haven't gone the way you had hoped, learn to celebrate those excesses and check out the work by more than 30 local artists and photographers in Insomnia Gallery's "Why Fight It? An Art Tribute to Vices." It's an all ages, dog-friendly affair, and the 21 and up crowd will get treated to free beer courtesy of Eureka Heights Brewing Company. Whether it's alcohol, caffeine, weed, junk food or video games, come see how these artists have paid tribute to the stuff that society says we should shun.
7-11 p.m. January 25, Insomnia Gallery, 708 Telephone, 713-242-8154, theinsomniagallery.com, free.
If you've got a knack for crime fighting and mystery solving, then check out CluedUpp Houston, a super popular British outdoor detective game that's coming to the Bayou City. Organizers say it's similar to a real-life version of the board game Clue, only this time we know whodunnit: The Beast of Birkness. The challenge comes in sorting out the clues and using all your skills. Teams will meet downtown and compete to see who cracks the case the fastest, who's wearing the fanciest outfit, best team picture or team name, and even prizes for kids and dogs.
10 a.m.-1 p.m. January 26, location to be provided upon sign-up, cluedupp.com/houston.html, $46 per team (up to six adults).
The airwaves are full of songs written out of the depths of despair; there's nothing like heartbreak or love gone wrong to fuel the creative process. But what happens before the split? Usually there's a lot of arguing, and Frame Dance explores those emotions in Let's Stay Home and Fight, an intimate performance co-presented with Axiom Quartet and in collaboration with composers Karl Blench and Daniel Harrison. Frame Dance Executive and Artistic Director Lydia Hance and the dancers have drawn from their own personal conflicts to craft this original work, describing it as "willfully built under pressure-cooker artistic constraints."
8 p.m. January 26, 4 p.m. January 27, Studio 101, 1824 Spring Street, 832-781-0808, framedance.org/events/lets-stay-home-and-fight, $25.
The Mayan apocalypse (December 21, 2012) may have come and gone without incident, but what would it have looked like? If you're picturing fire, rebirth and the rise of machines, then you're not far off with this upcoming concert presented by Houston-based ensemble Aperio, Music of the Americas. Cellist Jeffrey Zeigler is set to perform a program of American premieres by emerging Mexican composers: Cristobal Maryan’s Birth of a Robot; Hilda Paredes', New Fire; Juan Andres Vergara’s Lorelei; and new works by Jimena Maldonado and Felipe Perez Santiago. Seating is limited for Re:Volver - Cello, Electronica & the Mayan Apocalypse.
6-8 p.m. January 27, Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino Gallery, 1506 West Alabama, aperioamericas.org, $15 to $35.
Both introverts and extroverts get their moment under the spotlight with Grown-up Storytime, where once a month riveting stories are handed out to gifted storytellers, making for a thought-provoking evening for audience members. G.U.S.T. 121 brought us a recap about a game show contestant's nightmare, how a pyramid of tea lights can quickly turn into an impromptu metal show, and how an unsolved murder led to something evil lurking outside the door. Ensuring every G.U.S.T. is top shelf are the monthly workshops for readers and writers. If you've got charisma, presence and love to hear the sound of your own voice, sign up for this Sunday's Grown-Up Storytime Reader's Workshop. We'll see you under the spotlight.
2-4 p.m. January 27, Rudyard's British Pub and Grill, 2010 Waugh, 713-521-0521, facebook.com/events/287589462115978, free.