Fall Arts: Theater Picks


The Mountaintop
Performances begin September 22

Shortly before he died, Martin Luther King Jr. made a speech belittling the threats against him: “It really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop.” Katori Hall’s two-hander, set hours before King’s assassination, sees him at the acme of his powers. In a Memphis hotel room, King (Samuel L. Jackson) shares his last night on Earth with a chambermaid (Angela Bassett) working her first night on the job. But does she have more on her mind than a turn down?

Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre
242 West 45th Street,

We Live Here
Performances begin September 22

The actress Zoe Kazan boasts some pretty impressive progenitors. Her parents are the screenwriters Nicholas Kazan and Robin Swicord, her grandfather the director Elia Kazan. So it’s no surprise her playwriting debut, the Humana Festival hit Absalom, concerned a twisty, artistic family circle. Her follow-up, to be produced by Manhattan Theatre Club, features another one. It’s set on the weekend of big sister Allie’s wedding —an event complicated when little sister Dinah arrives to catch the bouquet.

Manhattan Theatre Club
131 West 55th Streetmtc-nyc.org

The Blue Flower
Performances begin October 12

If rising air travel costs have curtailed your plans for a European jaunt, consider buying a ticket to The Blue Flower instead. This Second Stage musical by husband-and-wife team Jim and Ruth Bauer treks from Berlin to Paris to Zurich as it explores the years before and between the two World Wars. Three male artists and a female scientist form a love rectangle amid political and cultural tumult. Director Will Pomerantz plays travel agent.

Second Stage Theatre
305 West 43rd Street, 2st.com;

Stop the Virgens
Performances begin October 12

Virginity (or should it be virgenity?) hasn’t troubled Karen O for a while. At least that’s what we assume of a two-time winner of Spin magazine’s “Sex Goddess Award.” But the lead singer of Yeah Yeah Yeahs and co-writer K.K. Barrett will explore chastity in this seven-song “psycho-opera” side-project, directed by Adam Rapp. Plot details aren’t yet forthcoming, but these collaborators should ensure that St. Ann’s final season in its DUMBO space begins with a bang.

St. Ann’s Warehouse
38 Water Street, Brooklynstannswarehouse.org

Suicide, Incorporated
Performances begin October 14

Does “Goodbye, cruel world” no longer have the same ring to it? In Andrew Hinderaker’s play at Roundabout Underground, an entrepreneur founds Suicide, Incorporated—a consulting service designed to make your last words that much more eloquent. But tension arises when a new employee resists the dictum to help clients go mellifluously into that good night. He’d rather help them live.

Roundabout Underground
111 West 46th Street, roundaboutunderground.com

King Lear
Performances begin October 18

Having spent countless seasons on Law and Order attempting to see justice done, Sam Waterston might be eager for the chance to defy it. He will star as the eponymous regent in King Lear, a play that begins with an unfair apportioning and concludes with an excessive reckoning. Waterston may seem still too young and too robust for Lear, but an actor who could steal the show as Polonius (as he did in his last Public Theater appearance) should have little trouble donning the crown and scepter.

Public Theater
425 Lafayette Street, publictheater.org

Blood and Gifts
Performances begin October 27

The headlines might lead you to believe that dealings between the U.S. and Afghanistan have never been more fraught. J.T. Rogers’s play suggests you’d be wrong. Expanded from a short he wrote for the Tricycle’s The Great Game, the script examines an earlier phase of our relations. Set amid the 1980s Soviet invasion, it concerns a CIA agent who must negotiate among the KGB, MI-6, ISI, and an imposing Afghan warlord. Bartlett Sher directs this overt mission.

Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater
150 West 65th Street, lct.org

She Kills Monsters
Performances begin November 4

Bats? Fleas? Vampires? These aren’t the outlandish characters of a new show at the Flea Theater. They’re the creators. The Bats, the Flea’s resident company, join with geek-chic Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company to offer this ladylike take on kicking ass, scripted by Qui Nguyen and directed by Robert Ross Parker. As befits a theater company that hosts its own stage-combat workshops, expect mixed martial arts, multimedia, and plenty of comics-inspired comedy.

The Flea Theater
41 White Street, theflea.org

Performances begin November 9

At 86 years of age, it would be no shame for theater director Peter Brook to admit that he can’t go on. But on he goes. Next with Fragments, an evening of five Beckett shorts co-directed with Marie-Hélène Estienne and presented by Theatre for a New Audience. In “Rough for Theatre I,” “Rockaby,” “Act Without Words II,” “Neither,” and “Come and Go,” the minutiae of existence—walking, sitting, dressing, being—are rendered excruciating and revelatory. Let’s go!

Baryshnikov Arts Center
450 West 37th Street, tfana.org

The Rehearsal, Playing the Dane
Performances begin November 10

Something is Irish in the state of Denmark. Pan Pan, an innovative Celtic company who have trod New York boards with irreverent takes on Oedipus Rex and “Hansel and Gretel,” offers a new take on a classic text. In most productions, Hamlet must decide what sort of man to be. In this one, in which a trio of actors vie for the role, audiences must decide what sort of man should play him. Director Gavin Quinn further enlivens the tragedy with trash cans, mirrors, and a very obedient Great Dane.

Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
566 LaGuardia Placeskirballcenter.nyu.edu

Elective Affinities
Performances begin November 17

As much as we like their Walker Street space, we’re pleased to note that Soho Rep is going site specific. In Elective Affinities, a play by David Adjmi, elderly Alice invites you and a few other guests into her Upper East Side apartment for a chat. But under Sarah Benson’s direction, what begins as genteel conversation devolves into violence. (But isn’t it always that way on the East Side?)

Venue to be announced, sohorep.org

The Infernal Comedy: Confessions of a Serial Killer
Performances begin November 17

John Malkovich is so skilled at playing psychopaths, you’re sometimes tempted to question his own sanity. He’ll likely have you reaching for your Rorschach blots when he takes on the role of Jack Unterweger in this Dante-esque Musikkonzept production at BAM. Unterweger, an Austrian serial killer, charmed the press and the intelligentsia even as he strangled nearly a dozen women.

BAM Opera House
30 Lafayette AvenueBrooklyn, bam.org