The Manhattan Theatre Club stage at City Center is giving off major Disney World Jungle Cruise vibes these days. Birds call over the syncopated groove of Nigerian percussionist Solomon Ilori’s 1963 deep cut “Tolani (African Love Song)” as patrons enter the theater. There’s a Tara Buddha statue downstage right, some Persian rugs, a scarlet chaise lounge and some cushions on the floor, and the proto-Afrobeat music morphs into the Middle Eastern goblet drums and chirpy marimba that have been cornerstones of “world music” for decades. It’s almost disappointing when no chipper, punning Adventureland employee pulls up to take you downriver.
Alan Hruska’s Ring Twice for Miranda, at City Center Stage II, is not the only recent play that features a dystopian society—it joins last year’s Mercury Fur (by Philip Ridley), and Caryl Churchill’s Escaped Alone, recently at BAM, and Wallace Shawn’s Evening at the Talk House, playing at the Signature Theatre Center. Unlike those, however, it has startling echoes of—or perhaps pays homage to—European plays from the middle part of the last century—particularly ones by Jean Genet, Samuel Beckett and Jean Giraudoux.