Features Published 24 September 2018

Exeunt NYC Recommends: October

Elaine May returns to Broadway. Anne Bogart brings ancient Greece to Brooklyn. Bedlam mashes up two classic plays. Our staff recommends all that and more this October.

Exeunt Staff

The days are growing shorter. The leaves continue to change colors. And our critics have plenty to recommend as the fall theater season kicks into full swing. Check it out!

Ivo Dimchev brings P PROJECT to NYU’s Skirball Center. (Photo: Nada Zgank)

P Project (Skirball NYU) (October 17): P Project might be free to attend, but going might cost you something more than cash. Bulgarian performance artist Ivo Dimchev’s one-night show on capitalism calls for audience participation, and you will get paid. But before you agree to get up on stage, know that the topics of participation include such things as “Piano, Pray, Pussy, Poetry, Poppers.” This is part of the larger Marx Festival taking place at NYU this fall. For a little of taste of Ivo’s antics, this was him recently on The X Factor in the UK. (Nicole Serratore)

The Waverly Gallery (John Golden Theatre) (September 25-January 27): I’ll cop to some Michael Cera/Kenneth Lonergan fatigue after last season’s Lobby Hero. I thought Cera was stunning in Lonergan’s This is Our Youth a few years ago, but there were a lot of things about their follow-up that didn’t connect with me. They’re back together this fall, but this time they’ve brought along the inimitable Joan Allen, Elaine May, and director Lila Neugebauer, making her Broadway debut. Neugebauer has a distinctive eye and an incomparable sense of pace and timing, qualities that will pair well with Lonergan’s writing. Lucas Hedges, a David Zinn set, and an incidental score by Gabriel Kahane are icing on a cake for which I was already salivating. (Lane Williamson)

The Lifespan of a Fact (Studio 54) (September 20-January 13): Daniel Radcliffe, Cherry Jones, Bobby Cannavale, and Leigh Silverman – how can you go wrong? Well, the underlying material is a slim nonfiction book that, with copious annotations and marginalia, details a drawn-out battle of wills between an essayist and the intern who spent something like five years fact-checking a piece the essayist wrote. I have no idea how Silverman and the writers, Jeremy Kareken, David Murrell, and Gordon Farrell, will translate a debate over the meaning of facts into a piece of drama, but the topic couldn’t be more relevant in the age of “fake news.” I’m intrigued to see them try. (Loren Noveck)

Sakina’s Restaurant (Minetta Lane Theatre) (October 5-November 4): Audible announced a partnership with the Minetta Lane Theatre earlier this year to produce a series of plays that would be taped and released through the streaming audiobook service. As someone who grew up outside of New York, and whose primary exposure to theater was through recorded media, I applaud this commitment to accessibility and hope it draws in a new audience. I’m particularly excited for this return engagement of Aasif Mandvi’s acclaimed 1996 one-person show, which introduced the multitalented performer to U.S. audiences at a time when South Asian theater artists were few and far between. (Cameron Kelsall)

Damon Daunno and Mary Testa in Daniel Fish’s Oklahoma! at St. Ann’s Warehouse. (Photo: Cory Weaver)

Oklahoma! (St Ann’s Warehouse) (September 27-November 11): A surprising tonal reinvention is to be expected with experimental director Daniel Fish’s take on Rodgers and Hammerstein’s famously optimistic, nostalgic, and some might say saccharine 1943 musical. This production promises to bring out the darker truths and histories lurking beneath this sunny celebration of Americana. (Alison Walls)

Les Historiennes (Crossing the Line Festival/FIAF Florence Gould Hall) (October 13): One night only! French actress Jeanne Balibar presents essays by three eminent French female historians: Anne-Emmanuelle Demartini, Charlotte de Castelnau, and Emmanuelle Loyer. The show highlights their accomplishments and the themes discussed in their works, from feminism to national identity and beyond. All three women will be at the performance and participate with Balibar in a post-show Q&A. We need more women’s interpretations of history – the vast majority of our historical canon was written by men. (Juliet Hindell)

The Other Josh Cohen (Westside Theatre) (October 26-February 24): This delightful, sweet, charming, and endearing musical originally ran back in 2012 but had its run unfortunately shortened by power outages from Superstorm Sandy. I ventured out to see it again in 2014 at the Papermill Playhouse in New Jersey, and I thought that might be the end of its life. But Steve Rosen and David Rossmer are back AGAIN with this little gem in a new production directed by Hunter Foster. Rosen and Rossmer co-star as Josh. They are also the book writers, lyricists, and composers. Josh Cohen is a hapless guy who’s love life is a mess and then gets burgled, but things start to turn around for Josh in an unexpected way. The songs are catchy. The jokes are funny. And the cast, which includes Kate Wetherhead and Hannah Elless, is pitch-perfect. (Nicole Serratore)

SITI Company’s The Bacchae comes to BAM. (Photo: Craig Schwartz)

The Bacchae (BAM Harvey Theatre) (October 3-7): The 2018 BAM Next Wave Festival launches into high gear with Anne Bogart, SITI Company, and a new translation of this insane Euripides play. Bogart is a legend and any new work promises to be a major event. Most Greek plays retain their relevance through the decades (and centuries, for that matter), and it will be thrilling to see how Bogart and SITI use their Viewpoints-based methods to bring this seminal play to life. (Lane Williamson)

Catch as Catch Can (Page 73 at the New Ohio) (October 22-November 17): Playwright Mia Chung had her last play premiere at London’s Royal Court and DC’s Woolly Mammoth; her other plays have been performed all over the country, even the world. But she’s never had a production in New York. Page 73, whose mission is to produce playwrights’ Off-Broadway debuts, gives its writers exquisite, carefully though-out and excellently executed productions, and director Ken Rus Schmoll, who also specializes in Off-Broadway debuts of America’s most interesting playwrights, is a great partner here. (Loren Noveck)

Uncle Romeo Vanya Juliet (A.R.T./New York Theatres) (September 14-October 28): I love Shakespeare. I love Chekhov. How could I possibly resist this mash-up of two great classics by Bedlam, a smart company known for reinvigorating classic stories with an energetic directness and ensemble-driven approach. The works of Shakespeare and Chekhov are similarly characterized by a delightfully reckless interweaving of comedy and tragedy (Racine did not approve). I’m intrigued to see how Kimberly Pau’s adaptation under the direction of Eric Tucker (who boasts a résumé filled with the classics) will embrace this tonal ambiguity and perhaps bring new depths to familiar characters. (Alison Walls)

The Peanut Butter Show (The Doxsee/Target Margin) (October 1-5): When I think of the theater company Little Lord, nutty does come to mind. So this peanut butter–heavy production (seriously, there are nut warnings) fits their MO. Often playing with pre-existing texts or historic material and casting a new light on it, here the company looks at the moralistic nineteenth century schoolbooks called “McGuffey’s Eclectic Readers.” (Nicole Serratore)

Renascence (Transport Group/Abrons Arts Center) (October 5-November 17): I fell in love with the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay at fourteen, when I read Nancy Milford’s illuminating biography Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay. Her little lyrics have a luminous musical quality to them, which should make them perfect material for the stage. Carmel Dean, a sought-after music director on and off Broadway, makes her debut as a composer with this tantalizing biography of the poet’s life – everyone called her Vincent – written in collaboration with Dick Scanlan (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Everyday Rapture). Scanlan co-directs with Jack Cummings III, artistic director of the invaluable Transport Group. (Cameron Kelsall)

Measure for Measure (BAM Harvey Theatre) (October 16-21): After the recent productions by Theatre for a New Audience and Elevator Repair Service, Measure for Measure has moved forward in terms of Shakespeare’s most interesting plays for me. Though considered a Problem Play, I think its flaws are what make it so captivating. Most of the characters are multi-faceted and their interactions are layered deeply in a way that presages the psychological dramas of our modern era. Cheek by Jowl presents the play in association with Moscow’s Pushkin Theatre in Russian (!), and it promises to be a production that illuminates an infinitely shadowed play. (Lane Williamson)

Exeunt Staff is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine