Winter Guide: New York Theatre Workshop Uncorks Three Pianos

A guide to winter plays

John Gabriel Borkman
Performances begin January 7
This spring, the Brooklyn Academy of Music will offer an archetype seemingly absent from the world stage: A banker with a touch of conscience. In this Abbey Theatre production, the wonderfully sullen actor Alan Rickman plays the title character, a financier once jailed for attempted embezzlement, fated to spend his old age with his unhappy wife (Fiona Shaw) and her cunning sister (Lindsay Duncan). Director James Macdonald totes up the balance sheet. BAM Harvey Theater, 651 Fulton Street, bam.org

The Hallway Trilogy
Performances begin January 25
Many plays are set within small New York apartments, but few just outside them. An anteroom is apparently the main focus of Adam Rapp’s The Hallway Trilogy, three connected works for the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. In the first, set in 1953, an actress arrives in the foyer of a tenement building. In the second, which takes place 50 years later, a married couple uses that same space to squabble. And in the third, set in 2053, that hallway—indeed, the whole building itself—has become a museum displaying the strife of an earlier era. Rattlestick Playwright Theater, 224 Waverly Place, rattlestick.org

When I Come to Die
Performances begin January 31
Nathan Louis Jackson’s first play, Broke-ology, was somewhat cruel and certainly unusual—it featured a dance number with a garden gnome. But it was in no way punishing. Now, Jackson returns to Lincoln Center with a new piece, again directed by Thomas Kail, that takes a very personal look at the death penalty. A death-row inmate has eaten his last supper and prepared to meet his maker, when he suddenly learns that his life has been spared. His new sentence? Determining why. Duke on 42nd Street, 229 West 42nd Street, lct.org

Compulsion
Performances begin February 1
Though it seems hardly credible now, people once kept actual pen-and-paper journals. And despite its lack of hyperlinks or even a single Twitpic, one of those texts, The Diary of Anne Frank, has become one of the most influential books of the last century. Certainly, playwright Rinne Groff seems most intrigued by it. Her new play, directed by Oskar Eustis, follows Sid Silver (a character based on real-life figure Meyer Levin) as he struggles to publicize the diary and adapt it to the stage. The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street, publictheater.org

The Book of Mormon
Performances begin February 24
On South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker delight in religious ridicule: The Virgin Mary bleeds anally; the Prophet Mohammed appears in a bear suit; a Jewish child worships magical feces. And, oh, the scorn that Zoroastrians have endured. Yet Stone and Parker must feel they’ve neglected the Latter-Day Saints. Thus the duo, in partnership with Avenue Q’s Bobby Lopez, will now make their Broadway debut with The Book of Mormon, a musical comedy devoted to the mockery of that sect. Can’t wait to see the polygamous kick line. Eugene O’Neill Theatre, 230 West 49th Street

Macbeth
Performances begin March 12
Having so recently played the Emperor Jones, John Douglas Thompson experiences a substantial demotion, signing on as the hero of Shakespeare’s supernatural tragedy, initially a mere thane. But with the help of a conniving wife and a hallucinatory dagger, Thompson should continue his ascent into theatrical royalty. In this Theatre for a New Audience show, Thompson reunites with Arin Arbus, who last directed him in Othello, to nobly portray the murderous Scotsman. The Duke on 42nd Street, 229 West 42nd Street, tfana.org

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