It is encouraging that the list of recommendations for October isn’t filled with musicals. Are straight plays back? I wouldn’t count on it in this economic climate. So let’s bask in the chance to hear words without music.
By Bill Marx.
Tiny Kushner by Tony Kushner. Staged by the Zeitgeist Stage Company at the Boston Center for the Arts, Black Box Theater, Boston, MA, through October 27. David J. Miller directs five short Kushner scripts, which “display the playwright’s trademark theatricality and wit. Two former first ladies, a trip to the moon, dozens of tax-evading New York cops, and variations on Hitler, Dostoyevsky, Nixon, George W. Bush, and Shakespeare populate these theatrical gemstones.”
The Farm by Walt McGough. At the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA, through October 23. The script sounds like a spy drama about the power of paranoia: “a suspenseful showdown between the old and new guard . . . puts “spooks” in a new light. Who can you trust in a world where the spies are getting spied on?” The cast includes some sturdy performers: Lindsey McWhorter, Nael Nacer, and Dale Place.
The Woman in Black. An adaptation of Susan Hill’s novel by Stephen Mallatratt. At the Salem Theatre Company, Salem, MA, through October 19. The month brings a smorgasbord of theatrical chills: those who like their scares with camp should check out the Gold Dust Orphans’ The Rocky Horror Show; those who want gore should check out Happy Medium Theatre’s Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom (love that title!). Those who want suggestions of the macbre, intimations of the unspeakable, should turn to this psychological thriller.
The Rocky Horror Show. Book, music, and lyrics by Richard O’Brien. Presented by Oberon and the Gold Dust Orphans at Oberon, 2 Arrow Street, Cambridge, MA, October 14 through December 2. (Performances are on Friday nights at 10:30 p.m.) “Boston’s infamous Gold Dust Orphans bring this rock n’ roll happening to new levels, as the show explodes all around you. Forget the Glee version, this show puts the glitter balls back in Rocky Horror!” Exploding sparkle balls—perfect programming for the season! The cast includes Ryan Landry as Dr. Frank’n’Furter.
Before I Leave You by Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro. Presented by the Huntington Theatre Company (HTC) at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA, October 14 through November 13. The long overdue first regional premiere of a play by Alfaro, who has been writing pungent plays, and having them produced by small Boston theaters, for decades. The script centers on the fears, desires, and bad behavior of a quartet of 60-somethings in Cambridge, MA. Much is being made in the HTC publicity of Alfaro’s age and how her script focuses on a gray panther demographic. I have read the play and let me tell you, Alfaro has plenty of lively tricks of the trade to teach the young pups. Jonathan Silverstein (The Temperamentals) directs.
Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris. Staged by the Trinity Repertory Company, Providence, Rhode Island, October 14 through November 20. I am really looking forward to the New England premiere of this sharp comedy about race, marriage, and real estate, though the unanimity of the critical adoration of this Pulitzer Prize- and Olivier Award-winning play is too hyper—could it be this good? Let’s hope. The play “imagines the tangled back stories and racially charged real estate negotiations surrounding the events of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun.” Trinity Rep is bringing out a powerhouse cast for this—Timothy Crowe, Mauro Hantman, Anne Scurria, Rachael Warren, and Joe Wilson, Jr. Brian Mertes directs.
Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom by Jennifer Haley. Presented by the Happy Medium Theatre at the Piano Factory, 791 Tremont Street, Boston, MA, October 20–29. You must have a spooky Halloween show, and this script is geared to fit the bill: “In a suburban subdivision with identical houses, parents find their teenagers addicted to an online horror video game. The goal? Smash through an army of zombies to escape the neighborhood for good. But as the line blurs between virtual and reality, both parents and players realize that fear has a life of its own.” There are 19 actors in the cast so there will be gore aplenty—and given the size of the Piano Factory theater space, claustrophobia is pretty much guaranteed. How do I know that fake blood will run in the aisles? The company notes that Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom “is not intended for children under that age of 15 due to the graphic violence, coarse language, and mature themes involved.”
Water by the Spoonful by Quiara Alegría Hudes. At Hartford Stage, Hartford, CT, October 20 through November 13. A play that deals directly with contemporary American life—How refreshing! Hudes, a Pulitzer Prize-finalist and Tony Award-winning author of the book for In The Heights as well as the upcoming stage adaptation of Like Water for Chocolate, explores what life is like in Philadelphia for a solider back from Iraq who is “struggling to find his place in the world again and put aside the demons that haunt him.” Meanwhile, “somewhere in a chat room, recovering addicts forge an unbreakable bond of support and love.”
Buddy Cop 2 by The Debate Society in association with the Ontological Theater. Directed by Weylin Symes. Presented by the Stoneham Theater, Stoneham, MA, October 20 through November 6. The New England premiere of what sounds like surreal version of TV’s madcap Cops. Here’s the premise: “set in a recreation center turned police station (it’s been like that for a few years!), the play keeps the audience bouncing around a plot that is in a perpetual state of unease, with quirky twists and turns that end up leaving everyone hanging. There’s mystery, flirtation, guffaws, compassion, Christmas spilling over into the new year, and a dark cloud looming overhead, that very much sounds like a helicopter. And sweat, lots of sweat.” The Brooklyn-based The Debate Society—otherwise known as Hannah Bos, Paul Thureen, and Oliver Butler—will be in Stoneham for the first week of the run, so questions can be directed to the horse’s mouth.
The Tempest by William Shakespeare. The Arts at Wellesley College present Actors From the London Stage at Wellesley College, Diana Chapman Walsh Alumnae Hall, 106 Central Street, Wellesley, MA, October 20–22. The late, great Caldwell Titcomb made a special effort to attend the annual New England visit of five top performers from London. He once enthused that they prove that when it comes to the Bard “the minimal may be maximal.” Who am I to argue with his considered opinion? This year’s hearty crew of Actors from the London Stage (AFTLS) are Jennifer Kidd, Richard Neale, Laurence Pears, Dale Rapley, and Adam Smethurst. Each performer will play a number of roles in The Tempest. This will be the AFTLS’s sixth visit to Wellesley—the group will be at the school for a weeklong residency, Oct. 17–22. In addition to performing, they will teach workshops for Wellesley Theatre Studies and English department students during the week.
You Better Sit Down: Tales from My Parents’ Divorce by The Civilians (Anne Kauffman, Matthew Maher, Caitlin Miller, Jennifer R. Morris, Janice Paran, and Robbie Collier Sublett). Presented by ArtsEmerson at the Paramount Center Mainstage, 559 Washington Street, Boston, MA, October 25–30. The show promises to be “a funny and poignant look at marriage and divorce, based on The Civilians artists’ interviews with their own sardonic, candid and lovable parents. These delicate parent-child conversations have yielded unique insights into falling in love, falling out of love, and rebuilding a life after the complex experience of dividing a family.”
In the Red and Brown Water by Tarell Alvin McCraney. Presented by Company One at the Boston Center for the Arts, Plaza Theater, Boston, MA, October 28 through December 3. The first installment in The Brother/Sister Play trilogy by McCraney, who comes with plenty of critical ballyhoo from New York and Chicago and lots of overheated rhetoric from Company One: “Dangerous, modern-day stories of kinship, love, heartache and coming-of-age. McCraney speaks with authenticity about a world that is gritty and lyrical, urban and mythic. One of the most startling new American theatrical voices of the 21st century . . .” We have heard all this before and have been disappointed, but maybe this time they are right. The other plays in the trilogy (The Brothers Size, Marcus; Or The Secret of Sweet) will premiere next month—you will have a number of ways to see the productions.
Double, Double Toil and Trouble (A witches’ brew of Shakespeare remixed). Presented by Whistler in the Dark Theatre and Imaginary Beasts at the Boston Center for the Arts, Black Box Theater, Boston, MA, October 29 through November 19. Two high-wire rewrites of Shakespeare for the price of one! The always interesting Whistler in the Dark Theatre takes on the linguistic friskiness of Tom Stoppard’s Dogg’s Hamlet, Cahoot’s Macbeth, while Imaginary Beasts does justice to the absurdity, we hope, of Ionesco’s Macbett. The shows will run in rep.