Monday, January 28, 2013

New Shows: Jan. 29 - Feb. 4

It's a man playing a woman playing a man
-- and it's not by Shakespeare!
(photo: Matthew Snead)
Some Shakespeare for Will-watchers this week, but I'll put Brecht in my spotlight instead. The Good Person of Szechwan isn't just politically radical & intellectually cynical, it's also theatrically forward-looking, at least in the Foundry Theater's production. GPS stars Taylor Mac, a genius of performance who goes way beyond drag to ultra-individual expression. He plays Shen Tei, the over-generous prostitute who's in danger of squandering her windfall fortune. To protect herself, she impersonates a ruthless―and male―businessman. Question is, which one is the titular good person? GPS is one of my favorite plays, but I've never seen it performed. I have, however, seen the director produce another Brecht drama several years ago, and that knocked me out. If all that weren't enough, GPS has live performances by “indie rock vaudevillians”!

The Good Person of Szechwanwhere: La MaMafirst night: Friday, Feb. 1
But if you're feeling more conservative, there's also a Much Ado this week that looks good. That show and more get the rundown below.

where: Ensemble Studio Theater
first night: Wednesday, Jan. 30
A period drama about Newton, whose experiments in optics and light led him to insert a needle into his own eye! It has a fine cast of young Off-Off-Broadway talents, and a solid director in Linsay Firman, whose previous work (Photograph 51) brought another era of high science, the 1950s, to life pretty vividly.

where: Urban Stages
first night: Thursday, Jan. 31
One of those off-the-wall concepts that might be cool: this live show is performed in the style of a silent film. So title cards, piano accompaniment, gesticulating, and even black-&-white set and costumes! The source material, a 1928 German Expressionist film of a Victor Hugo novel, is similar to his Hunchback, only this time the monstrous hero has a knife-disfigured grin. Supposedly, it inspired the guys who created the Joker.

where: TFANA at the Duke on 42nd Street
first night: Saturday, Feb. 2
Shakespeare's most realistic comedy and also his tightest: no cross-dressing gals, and the low-comedy subplot ties into the romantic plot nicely. But the best part, or parts, are Beatrice and Benedick, whose witty anti-romance is so charming it dominates the show. Maggie Siff takes on Beatrice a year after she played Kate in Shrew, with the same director; she had presence and intellect, so she should prove a fine Beatrice.

where: Ars Nova
first night: Wednesday, Jan. 30
Ars Nova stages their annual showcase of short plays and hip music, the hook being that the evening's thematically linked by some bit of ubiquitous cultural technology. This year it's Netflix (obviously), which I'd think gives the writers plenty of leeway.

where: The New Ohio Theater
first night: Thursday, Jan. 31
A horror show about a circus of immortal weirdos. A kid runs off to join them, but his clown alter-ego wants to kill and replace him. Sounds perfect for Valentine's Day!

where: MCC at the Lucille Lortel
first night: Thursday, Jan. 31
David Cromer directs, which should be enough to get you curious; his work has brought deep pleasures, from Adding Machine and Our Town to Tribes. He shifts pace for Really Really, which is a campus comedy about sex, class (in the Marxist sense, not the pedagogical), and gossip. Cross your fingers for something dark and cynical.

where: The Gym at Judson
first night: Sunday, Jan. 27
According to the press release, the ratio of men to women in Shakespeare's plays is 4:1. Actor/creator Tina Packer offers a sort of lecture, an overview of Shakespeare's women that focuses on the gals we know, the Rosalinds & Juliets. Then later in the 6-month run, she'll delve into each phase of Will's career with five “episodes” that look more closely at his changing approaches and attitudes. It sounds fascinating!

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