The year kicks off with few unusual productions—companies are depending on proven New York hits, such as the Yasmina Reza duo, the Tony Award-approved Red and Green Eyes, though the Tennessee Williams curio tantalizes.
By Tim Jackson and Bill Marx.
Red by John Logan. Directed by David R. Gammons. Presented by the Speakeasy Stage at the Calderwood Pavillion, Boston, MA, through February 4.
A multiple Tony Award-winning play about painter Mark Rothko that, through the interaction of two characters, explores the connections (and disconnections) between creativity and empathy. One of Boston most venerable actors, Thomas Derrah, plays the brilliant if ornery Rothko.
God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza. Translated by Christopher Hampton. Directed by Daniel Goldstein. Presented by the Huntington Theater Company at the Boston University Theatre, Boston, MA, through February 5.
Reza’s vicious play focuses on two hypocritical, liberal couples trying to politely sort out a nasty tiff between their kids in a meeting that degenerates into nasty stand-off. It is a lot of fun onstage. Director Roman Polanski brings his claustrophobic style to the film version (Carnage), which will be released here soon, but get the stage experience while you have the opportunity.
Superior Donuts by Tracy Letts. Directed by Spiro Veloudos. At the Lyric Stage, Clarendon Street, Boston, MA, through February 4.
The latest play from Tracy Letts, whose plays Bug and August: Osage County hit hot buttons that appealed to audiences and critics. (August: Osage County won a Pulitzer prize for best drama.) In this play, a former 1960s radical must deal with his energetic but troubled young, black assistant, who wants to modernize the donut shop. The impressive cast includes Steven Barkhimer, Karen MacDonald, and Will Lebow.
“Like many Catholic boys in the 1960s, Michael Mack wanted to be a priest. That dream ended at the age of 11 when his pastor invited him to the rectory to help with ‘a project.’ In the decades that followed, Mack wrestled with troubling questions about sexuality and spirituality, imagining one day meeting his abuser for a conversation. In 2008 had that chance, and landed on his former pastor’s doorstep.” This monologue is the result—a world premiere production.
Festen by David Eldridge. Directed by Tony Estrella. Based on the Dogme film and play by Thomas Vinterberg, Mogens Rukov, and Bo hr. Hansen. Staged by the Sandra Feinstein at Gamm Theatre, Pawtucket Armory, Pawtucket, RI, January 12 through February 12.
Adapted from the award-winning, 1998, Danish film by the same title (released in the U.S. as The Celebration), the play “redefines tragedy for a modern age.” A feisty choice for an enterprising theater—for mature audiences only.
Art by Yesmina Reza. Translated by Christopher Hampton. Directed by Antonio Ocampo-Guzman. Presented by the New Repertory Theatre at the Arsenal Center for the Arts, Watertown, MA, January 15 through February 5.
More of the clever Reza, in this case her first international hit, which ran on Broadway. It’s another confrontation of smart people reduced to the ridiculous, this time the battle is waged over the purchase of an all-white painting. It’s a comedy of (bad) manners that moves into an exploration of friendship as well satirically poking at the significance of modern art.
Green Eyes by Tennessee Williams. Directed by Travis Chamberlain. Company One presents the Chris Keegan and The Kindness staging at The Ames Hotel, 1 Court Street, Boston, MA, January 18 through February 12.
This Williams play, unpublished for nearly 40 years, receives a hardcore environmental production (praised when it was performed in New York) that is also a Boston premiere. A traumatized soldier and his sexually ravenous, new bride investigate their dark desires. Seating is limited for what is sure to be a very intimate theatrical experience.
Wanted Something: Fen and A Number by Caryl Churchill. Directed by Meg Taintor (Fen) and Jason King Jones (A Number). Staged by Whistler in the Dark Theatre at the Factory Theatre, Boston, MA, January 20 through February 4.
One of the more interesting local theater companies stages two works by a celebrated, British playwright whose vision is inevitably political. “Filling out the repertory series will be a series of Dark Days, a new initiative launched by Whistler in the Dark as a way of expanding the process into the community. Rather than leaving the theater sitting empty on Monday and Tuesday evenings, the company will throw open its doors and invite other artists in to create work that further celebrates the company’s current production.”
To mark the 40th anniversary of the prison uprising, Bread & Puppet reprises Attica, “which was created 40 years ago in direct response to the massacre, first performed at their Coney Island theater.” The second part of the program, Man of Flesh and Cardboard, is “about PFC Bradley Manning, the soldier who is incarcerated in a brig, accused of war crimes because he brought war crimes to the light of day.” This presentation is for adults. On January 28 and 29 the group will perform the “family-friendly” Man = Carrot Circus at 2 p.m. Bread & Puppet will also exhibit Upriser Calisthenics, a week-long, political art installation (running January 23–29, with an art opening on January 23), and the sale of B & P’s legendary Cheap Art.
Trouble is my Business. A stage adaptation of a pair of Raymond Chandler stories by James Glossman. Directed by Glossman. Staged by the Portland Stage, Portland, ME, January 24 through February 19.
“The 1930s atmosphere and trademark narrative style of Los Angeles’s most famous private detective come to life in this world premiere adaptation of Chandler’s Philip Marlowe short stories.” The tales hitting the stage are “Red Wind” and “Trouble is My Business.”
American Idiot. Directed by Michael Mayer. Choreography by Steven Hoggett. Orchestrations and arrangements by Tom Kitt. Presented by Broadway in Boston at the Boston Opera House, Boston, MA, January 24–29.
The national touring production of “the smash-hit” musical that tells “the story of three lifelong friends, forced to choose between their dreams and the safety of suburbia. Based on Green Day’s Grammy Award-winning multi-platinum album and featuring the hits “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” “21 Guns,” “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” “Holiday” and the blockbuster title track.” Another show that swears that it “boldly takes the American musical where it’s never gone before.”