Coming Attractions in Theater: October 2009

By Bill Marx

October includes the usual line-up of plays by seal-of-approval dramatists, Edward Albee and Conor McPherson, but there’s some welcome new blood, from Punchdrunk’s athletic adaptation of “Macbeth” to “Little Black Dress,” playwright Ronan Noone’s latest salvo at our national psyche, and “The Overwhelming,” the Boston premiere of a critically acclaimed study of Americans blundering in Rwanda.


Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee. Presented by the Publick Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA, through October 24. The tantalizing acting team of Shakespeare and Company’s creative monarch Tina Packer and the preternaturally controlled Nigel Gore as the embattled Martha and George may add some zing to this acidic warhorse.

Bash by Neil LaBute. Presented by Theater on Fire at the Charlestown Working Theatre, Charlestown, MA, through October 17. I have been increasingly critical of LaBute’s theater work, but this early collection of monologues centered on Mormons in trouble possessed considerable firepower when I saw a production years ago. It will be interesting to see if it still carries much sacrilegious punch.

Little Black Dress by Ronan Noone. Presented by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, Boston, MA, through October 25. Local playwright Ronan Noone continues to examine the dark side of America in his latest play, which deals with “the twisted dreams lurking behind the video arcade.”

The cast includes two Elliot Norton Award-winning actors, Jeremiah Kissel and Marianna Bassham, along with newcomers Karl Baker Olson and Alex Pollock. BPT is also serving up an offer that will be hard for some to refuse: Wear your little black dress to the show and receive $5 off a General Admission ticket. Discount applied at the box office.

Everything in the Garden by Edward Albee. Presented by the Brandeis Theatre Company, Laurie Theater, Brandeis University, October 8 through October 18. It is hard not to be curious about this student production of a rarely produced play by Edward Albee. The 1967 script is an adaptation of a 1962 play about desperate suburbanites by Giles Cooper.

Sleep No More, by the British theater company Punchdrunk. Presented by the American Repertory Theatre at The Old Lincoln School, 194 Boylston Street, Brookline, MA, October 8 through 31. The award-winning British theater company Punchdrunk makes its U.S. debut with this no doubt highly combustible (given that the A.R.T.’s fall motif is “Shakespeare Exploded!”) version of “Macbeth” told “through the lens of a Hitchcock thriller.”

Watch your step because you may stumble into “something wicked”: “The audience will have the freedom to roam the environment and experience a sensory journey as they choose what to watch and where to go in this unique theatrical adventure.”

The Seafarer by Conor McPherson. Presented by the Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Lowell, MA, October 15 through November 8. I find most of McPherson’s plays to be top heavy with gab, but this script was nominated for four Tony Awards, including Best Play. And it revolves around a high-stakes poker game well lubricated with alcohol, so maybe this time around the dramatic action will amount to more than talk.

Shooting Stars by Stephen Dietz. Presented by the Trinity Repertory Company, Providence, Rhode Island, October 16 through November 22. The publicity tells us this is a “truly smart romantic comedy”: “A young man and woman fell in love in college, and promised each other they’d change the world. Twenty years later, they meet unexpectedly in a snow-bound airport.” Chances are the world hasn’t changed all that much, but maybe a loving bond is in the offing? Fred Sullivan Jr. directs.

The Overwhelming by J.T. Rogers. Presented by Company One at the Boston Center for the Arts, October 30 through November 21. I was in Chicago last spring and there was considerable buzz about this play, so I am grateful it is receiving its Boston premiere. The plot deals with Americans behaving badly in Rwanda in the early 1990s; Shawn LaCount directs.

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