Theater archives

Holiday Arts Guide: Theater Picks


Much Ado About Nothing

Performances begin November 25

Sigh no more, ladies. And gentlemen, you can stifle your groans, too. Those tempted to grouse at how little Shakespeare reaches the outer boroughs will have less cause for complaint now that the Public Theater’s resurrected Mobile Shakespeare Unit will tour this melancholic comedy to underserved populations, traveling to shelters, rec centers, and prisons in four boroughs and Westchester, too. Directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah and starring Michael Braun and Samantha Soule, the production will then return for a three-week run at the Public. Various locations,

La Divina Caricatura

Performances begin December 6

The recent death of Ruth Maleczech has left a considerable void in the New York avant-garde, one that will be felt acutely when Mabou Mines, the company she co-founded, presents this “mixed media pop-opera,” in which Maleczech was to have starred. A mix of puppetry, prose, biography, and more, Lee Breuer’s play tells the interspecies love story of Rose and John, a dog and her master, as they journey from hell to paradise and beyond. La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theatre, 74 East 4th Street,

Rime of theAncient Mariner

Performances begin December 10

Fiona Shaw likes to go it alone. A few years ago she turned T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland into an unusually fertile evening and made a lively night of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days. Just last year she played the BVM in Colm Tóibín’s Testament of Mary. She returns with a new near-monologue, Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, though this time she’ll have a bit of company in the form of a dancer who embodies her words. Is it too much to hope for a surprise albatross cameo? BAM Harvey Theater, 651 Fulton Street, Brooklyn,

The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic´

Performances begin December 12

In a recent interview, Marina Abramovic´ explained, “To be a performance artist, you have to hate theatre. Theatre is fake. . . . Performance is just the opposite.” Which makes it all the more curious that Abramovic´ has lent her life and work to a play, albeit one created by the genre-defying Robert Wilson. Amid the vast space of the Park Slope Armory’s 55,000-square-foot drill hall, Abramovic´ enacts her history — from childhood to the present — assisted by actor Willem Dafoe and Antony and the Johnsons chorister Antony Hegarty. Park Avenue Armory, 643 Park Avenue,

The Last Two People on Earth: An Apocalyptic Vaudeville

Performances begin December 14

The Internet teems with odd combinations: MenuPages reviews of bacon ice cream, gifs of a frolicking dog and orangutan, YouTube videos of James Brown and Pavarotti. But if you’d like to see an improbable match in the flesh, then you should reserve your ticket for this Classic Stage workshop starring Mandy Patinkin and Taylor Mac. Mac is a singular chameleon, transforming from male to female, human to flower. And Patinkin is always Patinkin. Under Susan Stroman’s direction, they’ll duet on an eclectic song list. Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand Street,

The Argument and Plays

Performances begin December 19

The genius of David Greenspan tends to resist description. He has a small frame and a high voice, and when he’s onstage you won’t want to watch anyone else. One of his particular gifts is to take material that seems stale or unplayable and render it riveting. He accomplishes this feat easily with these twinned monologues, which he revives at the Bushwick Starr. The Argument lends verve to Aristotle’s seemingly arid philosophy, while Plays makes a perverse kind of sense of Gertrude Stein’s rambling essays. The Bushwick Starr, 207 Starr Street, Brooklyn,

Under the Radar

Performances begin January 8

Early January can seem a dismal time, with holiday carousing ended and Christmas trees and New Year’s streamers moldering in the slush. Luckily that’s the time of Under the Radar, a highlight of any theatrical season. This year’s lineup, the first co-curated by Mark Russell and Meiyin Wang, includes some hometown faves (600 Highwaymen’s The Record, Edgar Oliver’s Helen and Edgar) and foreign raves (tg STAN’s JDX — A Public Enemy from Belgium and Lola Arias’s El Año en Que Nací from Argentina). The moustaches and wit of John Hodgman also put in an appearance. The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Avenue,


Performances begin January 9

In the mid-’60s, letters appeared in the Daily Telegraph condemning a new play by Joe Orton. “I myself was nauseated by this endless parade of mental and physical perversion,” read one. “And to be told that such a disgusting piece of filth now passes for humour!” Of course, Joe Orton was the letter’s author, and his very funny, very filthy plays delight in offending genteel sensibilities. Red Bull, which typically restricts itself to sensational works of a much earlier era, revives Loot, Orton’s 1965 farce lampooning sex, death, theft, and religious niceties. Lucille Lortel Theater, 121 Christopher Street,

Stop Hitting Yourself

Performances begin January 13

Calling an Off-Broadway show “cheesy” doesn’t usually register as a compliment, but the Austin–based Ride Mechs ensemble might not mind the descriptor. Their new show, produced by LCT3, apparently contains a “queso fountain.” It also features tap dancing, self-help, and the “contemporary conservative dilemma.” For another unconventional variation on the musical, try Black Wizard/ Blue Wizard, a putatively enchanting collaboration between composer Dave Malloy and playwright Eliza Bent, termed a “philosophical musical fantasia.” Claire Tow Theater, 150 West 65th Street,; Incubator Arts Project, 31 East 10th Street.


Performances begin January 14

Imagine, if you will, a play with no rape, no racism, no litany of perversion. Thomas Bradshaw will not have written this play. A resolute devotee of the id, Bradshaw’s plays teem with uncomfortable encounters defiantly sexual and frequently racialized. Now the New Group, which staged his heated Burning, offers another deliberately lurid drama, about an interracial couple befriended by the evangelical next door, until an adult film actress and an aspiring filmmaker complicate their suburban idyll. Scott Elliot directs the neighborly theatrics. Theater Row, 410 West 42nd Street,