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Puppets, Pie and Penny Populate the Off-Off Boards
BY TRAV S.D.(travsd.wordpress.com) | Much like schools, Downtown theaters seem to start their annual “year” in the autumn — often presenting their best and most interesting work in the crucial fall months when it’s no longer so warm that most people are recreating outdoors, and not yet so cold that some won’t venture out of doors to see shows. This fall, there’s so much exciting stuff in the works at Downtown theaters you could get shin splints trying to see it all.
First, we treat you to some of the shows that are already open (so act fast!):
Through October 26, you can see The Bats (the resident acting company of The Flea Theater) present their production of “Sarah Floor in Salem Mass,” a movement-based “radical retelling” of the events leading up to the Salem Witch Trials. It’s written by Adriano Shaplin and directed by Rebecca Wright. Tickets can be purchased by calling 212-352-3101 or online at theflea.org.
Through November 2, if you have sufficient courage, you can check out the 10th anniversary edition of Nightmare Haunted House, entitled “Killers2” — a sequel to last year’s production, which promises to take us up close and personal to such cuddly figures as Charles Manson, Harrison Graham and Aileen Wournos. As always, Nightmare will take place at the atmospheric, castle-like Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center. More info to be found at hauntedhousenyc.com.
At the Kraine Theater through November 10, Radiotheater will present their adaptation of Orson Welles’ radio version of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” This interesting company does something quite different from old time radio show recreations — much of the effort goes into original soundscapes of music and effects that undergird the work of the actors — definitely worth checking out. Tickets are available at horsetrade.info.
From October 5 through October 27, you’re downright crazy if you don’t go see Varla Jean Merman and the Gold Dust Orphans in “Mildred Fierce,” their cross-dressing musical send-up up of the classic 1945 Joan Crawford vehicle. The show will be ensconced at Theater 80 St. Marks, and promises to be “sprinkled with splashy songs, tap dancing pies, bawdy waitress lingo and more surprises than you can shake a rolling pin at.” Also in the cast are Ryan Landry, Penny Champayne, Olive Another, Liza Lott and Delta Miles. For tickets and info, go to varlaonline.com.
One of my favorite Downtown companies, the Irish Repertory Theater, has two promising shows on deck this season. From October 9 through December 8, they will be presenting a revival of Sean O’Casey’s 1924 masterpiece “Juno and the Paycock.” Concurrently, they are mounting a triple-header of avant-garde one acts by Samuel Beckett (“Act Without Words,” “Play” and “Breath”), directed by Bob Flanagan. It runs from October 16 through December 1. The skinny on these two shows can be found at irishrep.org.
October 9 through November 17, Soho Rep, in association with American Repertory Theater and Yale Repertory Theater, is presenting the New York premiere of David Adjmi’s “Marie Antoinette.” The production is billed as “raw, fantastical and funny” — but frankly, the main reason I hope to attend is that they promise that popular Downtown actor/playwright David Greenspan will be playing a sheep. To get yours, go to sohorep.org.
At UNDER St. Marks, from October 10 through 26, you can catch the latest edition of writer and raconteur Clay McCloud Chapman’s “Pumpkin Pie Show” — featuring himself, Hanna Cheek and Ana Anensio enacting Chapman’s funny, gross and scary monologues. This year the pieces are about such craziness as a case of postpartum depression that descends into madness and an episode of masturbation in the middle of a matinee performance of “Phantom of the Opera.” To get in on the action, go to horsetrade.info.
October 10 through 30, the Axis Theater has booked a show they call “Concert of the Mind: Exceeding Human Limits” — a show by Israeli magician Asi Wind, which will consist of mentalism and memorization. In this remarkable-sounding show, he promises to simultaneously solve two Rubik’s cubes (one in each hand) without looking, instantaneously remember the order of a completely shuffled deck of cards, perfectly recall a photo he has seen only for a few seconds and memorize the names of the entire audience. Shall we all go and try to stump him? I can’t even remember the names of the people in my OWN family photos! More info at axiscompany.org.
Previews begin October 15 for a new show at 3LD called “The Downtown Loop,” which purports to offer a virtual bus ride through a future Manhattan showing what was or what might have been. Knowing this company and their penchant for bells and whistles, you can expect to be dazzled — or at least tickled. Official opening is October 23, and it runs through November 16. Info is at 3ldnyc.org.
Here’s a brief blip but well worth knowing about: From October 16-19, the so-very-aptly-named gothic queer storyteller Dandy Darkly will be presenting “Gory Hole” (his recent hit of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival) at the C.O.W. Theater (in the Living Theater’s old Clinton Street headquarters). “C.O.W.” stands for “Celebration of Whimsy” — surroundings in which we feel the rara ava Mr. Darkly will feel right at home. Tickets at 917-972-9394. Also visit dandydarkly.com.
And this is one I don’t think I’m going to be able to pass up: Underground legends Mink Stole and Penny Arcade co-starring in the long-neglected Tennessee Williams play, “The Mutilated” (1966). True to form, filth and degradation are their portion in this transitional outing, written when Williams was just beginning to stretch the envelope of sordidness to even lower depths. It remains to be seen whether these two Downtown superstars will play it straight or go for camp, but this is a drink I’ll be glad to take either way. It’s going to be at the New Ohio Theatre, November 1-24. For more info, go to sohothinktank.org.
November 7 through the 24, La MaMa’s Puppet Series, curated by Denise Greber, kicks into high gear — offering nine pieces of cool sounding puppet theater (call ‘em “puppet shows” and get your ass kicked!). On the menu will be “The Orphan Circus” by Los Sages Fous (Nov. 7-10), “Are They Edible?” by Jeanette Yew (Nov. 7-10), “Echo in Camera” a co-production of Dead Puppet, the Schauspielhaus Wien and the Grand Theater de Luxembourg (Nov. 7-17), “The God Projekt” by Lone Wolf Tribe (Nov. 14-24), “Dorme” by Laura Bartolomei (Nov. 21-24), a Puppet Slam on Nov. 15 and several kid’s shows — “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” (Nov. 16), “The Three Little Pigs” (Nov. 17) and “Squirrel Stole My Underpants Nov. 16-17). If that’s not enough to sate your wanton puppet-lust, stick around. The Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre will be presenting their marionette adaptation of Plato’s “Republic” from November 29 through December 15 and STOP RIGHT THERE. Before you reject it out of hand, I must tip you off that this company’s scripts are always way funnier and smarter than they have any right to be. I would gladly see anything this company does — and that includes this show, Socratic Dialogues and all. Info and tickets available at lamama.org.
From November 19 through January 5, something a little different at New York Theater Workshop — 25-year-old Kyle Riabko of the casts of “Spring Awakening” and the recent “Hair” revival will perform a concert of the songs of Burt Bacharach featuring, from the look of the publicity photo, a lot of electric guitar. Go to nytw.org for more details. Or just “Say a Little Prayer.”
November 29 through January 6, my favorite dance troupe, the neo-baroque Company XIV, will be presenting their decadent holiday classic “Nutcracker Rouge” at the Minetta Lane Theatre. Companyxiv.com for information and tickets.
Lastly, two more cool-sounding shows at La MaMa, both opening December 6. “The Third Policeman” is the Nomad Theatrical Company’s adaptation of Flann O’Brien’s absurdist novel, playing through December 15. At the same time, they will be running the world premiere of Mabou Mines co-founder Lee Breuer’s “40 year-in-the-making magnum opus,” “La Divina Caricatura Part One, The Shaggy Dog.” That will be on the boards until December 22.