Chekhov Lizardbrain

Starts October 2

In the 1950s, Dr. Paul MacLean introduced his "three-brain theory"—the notion that we must navigate among three different brains: an instinctual "reptile brain," an emotional "mammal brain," and a logical "human brain." We're not sure it's entirely logical, but the humans of Philadelphia's wonderful Pig Iron Theatre Company have decided to apply MacLean's notions to Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters, here performed by four male actors—Dito van Reigersberg, Gabriel Quinn Bauriedel, Geoff Sobelle, and James Sugg—in a "mental circus." Ohio Theatre, 66 Wooster Street, 212-868-4444.

The Atheist

Blasted cast members Louis Cancelmi, Marin Ireland, and Reed Birney. Headless body not pictured.
Willie Davis/VERAS

Blasted cast members Louis Cancelmi, Marin Ireland, and Reed Birney. Headless body not pictured.

Starts October 6

As wildly unprincipled journalists ourselves (theater criticism simply abounds with opportunities for graft, abuse, and falsity), we eagerly anticipate Irish playwright Ronan Noone's portrait of an amoral hack. In this one-person show, Campbell Scott plays Augustine Early, a man who transforms himself from trailer-park denizen to successful tabloid reporter. Justin Waldman directs this dark and trashy frolic, which received excellent notices at Williamstown. The Culture Project at the Barrow Street Theatre, 27 Barrow Street, cultureproject.org.

Sunken Red

Starts October 7

Some years ago, Flemish author Jeroen Brouwers turned down the Dutch Literature Prize because he felt the ¤16,000 award was too meager. We can't imagine Brouwers received much for the rights to make a stage adaptation of his wrenching autobiographical novel, but he's nevertheless consented. Flemish theater groups Toneelhuis and ro theater, in collaboration with popular Netherlands actor Dirk Roofthooft and director Guy Cassiers, offer this story of the five-year-old Brouwers's internment in a Japanese prison camp during World War II. BAM Harvey Theater, 651 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, bam.org.

Farragut North

Starts October 22

Playwright Beau Willimon's play traces the ethical missteps of a campaign worker, in a script purportedly based on the author's own experiences in the Howard Dean campaign. Once discussed as a likely candidate for a Broadway production, the play will instead run in an Off-Broadway primary at the Atlantic, while Willimon works on adapting the script for a film version, set to star Leonardo DiCaprio. The play contents itself with the worthy John Gallagher Jr.; director Doug Hughes sets the campaign strategy. Atlantic Theater, 336 West 20th Street, atlantictheater.org.

The Files

Starts October 22

A Polish company founded in 1964, Theatre of the Eighth Day survived the Communist period, despite political opposition and official harassment. Some years ago, the company chanced on a report about one of their early works, compiled by the secret police. The troupe has used the information in that file as well as personal correspondence and extracts from that earlier subversive work to create a new piece examining repression, the artistic impulse, and the literary abilities of the Polish police. Part of the Made in Poland Festival. 59E59 Theaters, 59 East 59th Street, 59E59.org.

Road Show

Starts October 28

Earlier this year, New York magazine included this Stephen Sondheim musical in an article called "Hey, How's That Project Going?" a piece about some of the art world's most long-delayed works. Sondheim began work on the tuner, then called Wise Guys, in 1996. It went through several more versions under the sobriquets Gold! and Bounce. Now titled Road Show, this musical about a couple of confidence men will debut at the Public, directed by John Doyle. The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street, publictheater.org.

Back Back Back

Starts October 30

In the midst of the recent hearings about steroid use in baseball, José Canseco said, "From what I'm hearing, I was the only individual in major league baseball to use steroids." In his latest play Itamar Moses assumes the drugging was slightly more widespread. Back Back Back focuses on three teammates who may have dosed. In what will likely not be ruled an error, the piece also marks the return to the New York field of director Daniel Aukin, a player much missed. Manhattan Theatre Club, New York City Center, 131 West 55th Street, mtc-nyc.org.

The Lastmaker

Starts November 6

If "to be or not to be" is perhaps the theater's most enduring question, the members of the performance group Goat Island have found an answer: the latter. After 20 years and eight full-length pieces, the collective decided to call it quits. And they made a play about it. Their ultimate work combines the architecture of the Hagia Sofia, Lenny Bruce's last routine, Bach's "Art of the Fugue," knights in armor, St. Francis, and a musical saw. Saying goodbye isn't, it seems, a simple matter. P.S.122, 150 First Avenue, ps122.org.

Shrek the Musical

Starts November 8

Broadway has a long and profitable tradition of luring big-screen stars to the stage. Its latest coup: a lovable hero with a successful film franchise to his credit. Sure, he's not conventionally handsome (bald, fat, green) and his dancing could use some work, but we predict a successful theatrical debut for that charming ogre Shrek. Acclaimed playwright David Lindsay-Abaire and composer Jeanine Tesori make a musical out of the very popular film, itself based on William Steig's picture book. Broadway Theatre, 1681 Broadway, shrekthemusical.com.

Opening Night

Starts December 2

In a season of numerous film-to-stage adaptations (Billy Elliot, Shrek, To Be or Not to Be), we're saving up for the popcorn-candy-soda combo at this one: Flemish giant Ivo van Hove's version of the 1977 John Cassavetes movie. Van Hove will likely turn his talents for unexpected scenography and extravagant emotion to this piece, which concerns an aging actress who holds herself responsible for a fan's untimely demise. In Dutch, with English subtitles. BAM Harvey Theater, 651 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, bam.org.
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