Features NYCNYC Features Published 26 April 2018

Exeunt NYC Recommends: May

With an array of new plays and revivals, our critics make their selections for theater to see in May.

Exeunt Staff
Assembled Identity (Photo: Paula Court)

Assembled Identity (Photo: Paula Court)

In the merry month of May, we have a Broadway play, a renown UK tour, and some American originals Off-Broadway and beyond to recommend.

Light Shining in Buckinghamshire (New York Theatre Workshop) (April 18-May 27): Three-time Obie Award winner Rachel Chavkin directs Caryl Churchill’s tale of revolutionaries amid the chaos of political upheaval and social struggles of 1647 England. Churchill is legendary for good reason. Chavkin’s direction of Hadestown, also at NYTW in 2016, was energetic and compelling. Chavkin should be a great match for Churchill’s uniquely playful, yet piercingly insightful, historicized social commentary. (Alison Walls)

Assembled Identity (HERE) (April 24-May 19): I am a sucker for stories about twins, clones, and any kind of uncanny doubles–even more so in theater, where you can’t make an actor her own twin with cinematography, and where the uncanniness is visceral. Assembled Identity created by Purva Bedi, Kristin Marting, and Mariana Newhard sounds like it’s going to be somewhere between Orphan Black, Caryl Churchill’s A Number, and a far-ranging genetics lecture, and all of those things sound intriguing to me. (Loren Noveck)

Paradise Blue (Signature Theatre) (April 24-June 10): Playwright Dominque Morisseau and director Ruben Santiago-Hudson have collaborated before with thrilling results.  Their moving and layered production of Skeleton Crew in 2016, about auto workers struggling to get by, was the final chapter in Morisseau’s Detroit play trilogy.  It was one of my favorite plays that year. Now Paradise Blue, the first chapter, set in the 1940’s Detroit, makes its New York City debut. Focused on the owner of nightclub in black neighborhood threatened by gentrification, I expect Morisseau to mix politics, history, and personal drama to create another powerful play about the past that informs our present. (Nicole Serratore)

Boys in the Band (Photo: Robert Trachtenberg)

The Boys in the Band (Booth Theatre) (April 30-August 11): Mart Crowley’s seminal gay play from 1968 makes its belated Broadway debut under Joe Mantello’s direction, with a cast led by Jim Parsons, Andrew Rannells, Zachary Quinto, and Matt Bomer. Will it be dated? Probably. But it also offers a glimpse back to a time when queer life was still largely lived behind closed doors. (Cameron Kelsall)

The Gentleman Caller (Abingdon Theatre Company/Cherry Lane Theatre) (May 5-26): Philip Dawkins explores the complicated friendship between playwrights Tennessee Williams and William Inge in this two-hander, which comes to New York after earning rave reviews in Chicago earlier this year. It addresses, among other things, why Williams has become one of American theater’s most storied artists while Inge has largely been assigned to the annals of history. Daniel K. Isaac and Juan Francisco Villa play the dead white guys. (Cameron Kelsall)

Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Photo: Hugo Glendinning)

Long Day’s Journey into Night (BAM Harvey Theater) (May 8-27): By my count, I’ve seen twenty productions of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night — which means I’ve willingly spent around four days of my life with the tortured Tyrone clan. But like a good masochist, I keep coming back for more. The latest production, by Sir Richard Eyre, comes to Brooklyn via the Bristol Old Vic and the West End, and will travel to Los Angeles after its stand at BAM. Jeremy Irons makes a rare New York stage appearance as James Tyrone, opposite Lesley Manville and recent Tony nominee Matthew Beard. (Cameron Kelsall)

Peace for Mary Frances (The New Group/Signature Center) (May 8-June 17) The great Lois Smith is 87 years-old, and she’s far from the only amazing actor appearing in the New Group’s production of Lily Thorne’s play Peace for Mary Frances: J. Smith-Cameron, Johanna Day, Mia Katigbak, Paul Lazar…all the kinds of actors you should welcome the chance to see live and in person. I’m also a big fan of director Lila Neugebauer, who was responsible for two of my favorite shows last season, The Wolves and Everybody. (Loren Noveck)

Time’s Journey Through a Room (A.R.T./New York Theaters) (May 10-June 10): Pig Iron’s Dan Rothenberg directs this PlayCo premiere of Toshiki Okada’s play, the company’s third foray into Okada’s so ordinary-it’s-weird world (the most recent to date was 2014’s The Sonic Life of a Giant Tortoise). However, this newest work takes on the entirely extraordinary event of the Fukushima disaster and its aftermath. Expect a coolly zen, sneakily mind-bending reflection on time and being. (Molly Grogan)

Tin Cat Shoes (Clubbed Thumb/The Wild Project) (May 19-29): Playwright Trish Harnetiaux writes quirky characters, heartfelt comedy, and has in the past played with experimental form. In her new play, which is part of Clubbed Thumbs Summerworks, she’s got a terrific ensemble to fulfill her comedic vision.  David Greenspan, Pete Simpson, Kyle Beltran, Donnetta Lavinia Grays, and Emily Cass McDonnell will help tell the story of shoe store employees who end up on a “madcap” emotional adventure. (Nicole Serratore)

Fairview (Soho Rep) (May 29-July 1): Jackie Sibblies Drury’s second play to be produced by Soho Rep (after the acclaimed We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as Southwest Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915) uses that old ruse of a family celebration to drag the skeletons from the closet. But Sibblies Drury is an exactingly precise writer (as evidenced in that painstakingly clear title, as well as Really, directed in 2016 by Richard Maxwell), and the creative team includes director Sarah Benson and set designer Mimi Lien. I’m excited to see what Sibblies Drury has to say about race and identity in our current American moment. (Molly Grogan)

Exeunt Staff is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine