Theater Fall Picks 2013

The Machine

Performances begin September 4

You might think that observing a chess match has all the spectatorial thrill of watching paint dry or grass grow. But playwright Matt Charman thinks otherwise. He has crafted a play about chessmaster Garry Kasparov's series of games against IBM supercomputer Deep Blue. Josie Rourke, artistic director of London's Donmar Warehouse, will move her actorly pawns (Hadley Fraser, Francea Annis, Kenneth Lee) around the center of the cavernous Armory space. Park Avenue Armory, 643 Park Avenue, armoryonpark.org

Crossing the Line

Performances begin September 19

The seventh edition of this Francophile festival with an Anglophone name brings its interdisciplinary joie de vivre to Manhattan in September. Produced by the French Institute: Alliance Française, this year's lineup includes new episodes of Nature Theatre of Oklahoma's Life and Times, Annie Dorsen's political karaoke, Tim Etchells's Sight is the Sense that Dying People Tend to Lose First, and Pascal Rambert's a (micro) history of world economics, danced. Allons-y! Various locations, fiaf.org/crossingtheline

Romeo and Juliet

Performances begin September 27

When Juliet proclaims that this is "too rash, too unadvised, too sudden," she likely wasn't thinking of the casting of Elizabeth Olsen, who has been long announced as the doomed heroine of Shakespeare's tragedy at Classic Stage Company. She'll be wedded and bedded with Finn Wittrock's Romeo in Tea Alagic's production, which will compete with an uptown interracial take on the romance starring Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad. Classic Stage Company, 136 East 13th Street, classicstage.org

The Snow Geese and Small Engine Repair

Performances begin October 1

Actual geese will be contemplating their annual flight south as The Snow Geese, Sharr White's new play, a collaboration between MCC and Manhattan Theatre Club, begins previews on Broadway. Set nearly a century ago, it concerns a New York widow (Mary Louise Parker) organizing a hunting party an ocean away from World War I's rifles. The next MCC show, John Pollono's Small Engine Repair, drives into the present with a story of male rivalry set in a dingy garage. Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 West 47th Street, mcctheater.org, manhattantheatreclub.com

Julius Caesar

Performances begin October 3

Late in Shakespeare's tragedy, Antony says of the fallen Caesar, "Nature might stand up/And say to all the world, this was a man!" Well, not exactly. In Phyllida Lloyd's high-concept production, which debuted at one warehouse (London's Donmar) and has moved to another (St. Ann's), the ancient betrayal plays out on a cellblock of a women's prison, with Harriet Walter as Brutus and Frances Barber as Caesar. St. Ann's Warehouse, 29 Jay Street, Brooklyn, stannswarehouse.org

Richard III and Twelfth Night

Performances begin October 15

Mark Rylance, among the greatest actors of his generation, has powers of metamorphosis that would make a shapeshifter envious. He can switch from the heavy to the ethereal, the tragic to the antic, almost unrecognizably. He'll show off these transformative talents when he brings two Shakespeare plays, fitted with all-male casts, to Broadway. These shows, which originated at Shakespeare's Globe in London, feature Rylance as both the melancholy Olivia and the murderous Richard. Stephen Fry, no mean actor himself, appears as the cross-gartered Malvolio. Belasco Theatre, 111 West 44th Street, shakespearebroadway.com

One Night . . .

Performances begin October 16

Charles Fuller is best known for A Soldier's Play, a murder mystery among enlisted men and officers during World War II. Now he returns with a new script that preserves the military milieu but flips the gender, exploring the particular challenges besetting women in the armed forces. The Rattlestick fall season continues with Halley Feiffer's How to Make Friends and Then Kill Them, which concerns two sisters and their wallflower pal as they navigate the treacherous terrain of adolescence. Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, 224 Waverly Place, rattlestick.org

The Patron Saint of Sea Monsters

Performances begin October 18

Most informed theatergoers don't believe in Nessie or the Kraken, but we do believe in Playwrights Horizons, which looks to offer another terrific season. The fall lineup begins with Marlene Meyer's The Patron Saint of Sea Monsters, about an unlikely romance. The season continues with Madeleine George's farce The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence, which unites a century and a half of famous Watsons, human and machine. Playwrights Horizons, 416 West 42nd Street, playwrightshorizons.org

No Man's Land and Waiting for Godot

Performances begin October 26

Wasteland tramps and North London literati unite in this double bill of works by Harold Pinter and Samuel Beckett. Acclaimed actors Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart (joined by local ringers Billy Crudup and Shuler Hensley) will play Didi and Gogo, Hurst and Spooner. And if No Man's Land hasn't satisfied your appetite for those famous Pinter pauses, you can slip down Broadway to see the improbably good-looking Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz (joined by the none-too-shabby Rafe Spall) take on Betrayal. Cort Theatre, 138 West 48th Street, twoplaysinrep.com

Nosferatu

Performances begin October 30

Did you think the vampire craze had run its course? Well, suck it. Over Halloween weekend, the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival will present Grzegorz Jarzyna's new take on the supernatural tale, inspired by Bram Stoker and produced by the Polish companies TR Warszawa and Teatr Narodowy. If human villainy is more your thing, BAM will soon follow with famed director Thomas Ostermeier's take on Enemy of the People, Henrik Ibsen's tragicomic study of petty bureaucracy and spa town venality. BAM Harvey Theater, 651 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, bam.org

 
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