Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night

The Fiasco Theater production of Twelfth Night is energetic, clearly spoken and firmly middle-of-the-road. The company, with standard members, must try to cast every actor in a part, even if the requirements are slightly off. In Shakespeare’s story of twins, a brother and sister, who are shipwrecked in a foreign country, Illyria, where they have amorous mix-ups before they are reunited, an audience may notice that Emily Young’s slender Viola bears little resemblance to Javier Ignacio’s chunkier Sebastian, apart from wearing glasses and a ribbed, russet sweater, though it’s unlikely that will spoil one’s enjoyment.

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Bulldozer: The Ballad of Robert Moses

Decades after his death, Robert Moses’s legacy is still felt throughout New York City, from the Triborough Bridge to Lincoln Center. As the urban planner responsible for much of the city’s 20th-century roadways and infrastructure projects, Moses had a polarizing career, making lasting improvements to the city and the surrounding area even as he was criticized for imposing his plans, no matter the consequences. New Yorkers traveling through Moses’s former domain to the Theatre at St. Clements, however, will find little unique insight into the man behind the infrastructure at Bulldozer: The Ballad of Robert Moses, a bio-musical of the master builder who outlasted mayors and governors to impose his will on New York City and the surrounding area from the 1920s through the 1960s.

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Counting Sheep

Counting Sheep

Counting Sheep is immersive theater at its very best. Billed as a “guerrilla  folk-punk opera,” the work is about the 2013–14 Ukrainian Revolution in Maidan Square, in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. And it is into the arms of this revolution (also known as the Revolution of Dignity), as it spreads from the youth to Ukrainian people of all ages, that the members of the audience are thrust.

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De Novo

De Novo

Imagine the life of a young lad who was never told that he was a good kid. “From the time [Edgar Chocoy] was born,” says immigration defense lawyer Kimberly Salinas (Emily Joy Weiner) in the documentary-theater piece De Novo, “he was seen as this poor kid from the slums of Guatemala City, then a gang kid from East L.A., then a criminal alien teenager in Immigration Court. I don’t think anyone ever got to see who he really was.” Salinas’s reflection makes clear that a seemingly trivial detail such as this can impose serious implications on a person’s self-esteem and that a life can sustain enormous consequences from it. 

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‘Mushroom Cure’ returns

Adam Strauss’s solo show The Mushroom Cure at Theatre 80 St. Marks has been extended through Jan. 27. Written and performed by Strauss and directed by Jonathan Libman, the show was first seen at the New York International Fringe Festival and at the Cherry Lane Theater in 2016. Strauss’s solo show was inspired by a scientific study showing that hallucinogenic mushrooms may cure obsessive-compulsive disorder. He then embarked on a program of vigilante psychopharmacology, trying to treat his debilitating obsessive-compulsive disorder with psychedelics. Performances will be Wed.-Sat. at 7:30 p.m. Theatre 80 St. Marks is located at 80 St. Marks Place at the corner of First Avenue. For tickets at $35, call OvationTix at (212) 352-3101 or visit themushroomcure.com.

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Downtown Race Riot

Downtown Race Riot

Only moments into Downtown Race Riot, playwright Seth Zvi Rosenfeld skillfully plunges the audience into a milieu that Republicans in the current political landscape fulminate over. An indigent mother (Chloë Sevigny), advises her son Pnut (pronounced peanut) that she has a foolproof plan to earn money, but she will need his help when her lawyer comes by shortly. “Listen to me,” she says, “I’m gonna bring up your asthma so have your inhaler ready and if you have to fake a cough, be prepared…. And you may have to act mildly retarded.” With a sluggish indifference, unless she’s animated by a new scam, Sevigny expertly inhabits her character, Mary, with her semi-glassy eyes (she’s a recovering addict, and not too far on the road to recovery to turn back decisively) and a confidence in her own craftiness.

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20th Century Blues

20th Century Blues

Aging is the lens through which Susan Miller’s 20th Century Blues explores the relationships of four women who have known one another for 40 years. The play focuses on the baby-boomer generation and zooms in on how they deal with themselves, their friendships and their social status. 

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‘Trump Lear’ extends again

Performances of Trump Lear, by David Carl, have been extended through Feb. 10 at Under St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place between First Avenue and Avenue A). Directed by Michole Biancosino and co-created by Carl and Biancosino, the show opened in July. In the piece, an actor named Carl David is being held without bail for performing his Trump-inspired version of Shakespeare’s King Lear. He is forced to perform his King Lear to an unseen online audience of one, as the President restlessly watches remotely from a live feed. Performances are Saturdays at 2 p.m. Tickets ($20) may be purchased in advance at www.horseTRADE.info. Visit www.trumplear.com for more information on the production. 

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Harry Clarke

Harry Clarke

Billy Crudup has built a career playing charming rogues in films like Almost Famous, Eat Pray Love, and last year’s 20th Century Women. It makes perfect sense when his character is revealed as (11-year-old spoiler alert!) the real villain of Mission: Impossible III because Crudup is credible as both hero and villain; there’s always a hint of psychosis underpinning his boy-next-door looks. He’s indulged this duality in his stage roles as well (The Elephant Man, The Pillowman, The Coast of Utopia), but none has exploited the dark under his light as successfully as Harry Clarke, David Cale’s new one-man show at Vineyard Theatre.

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Hot Mess

Hot Mess

A retitled version of Regretrosexual—The Love Story, a play written roughly 10 years ago by Dan Rothenberg and Colleen Crabtree, the “new play” Hot Mess is about the authors’ unusual courtship and marriage. Both were comedians working in Los Angeles, and the work focuses on a particular hurdle Rothenberg had to overcome: he had lived as a gay man for two years in San Francisco before meeting and marrying Crabtree. Scrubbing out the “regret” part of the former title and using the catchier Hot Mess eliminates the implication of previous disappointment in the age of political correctness.

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Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice

Don’t underestimate Jane Austen. Her authorial voice, distinctively witty and humane, rings out above the Gothic din of early 19th-century fiction. Two centuries after her death, this middle-class provincial’s novels still enchant readers with their verisimilitude and authenticity, despite how radically manners and morals have changed.

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The Mad Ones

The Mad Ones

Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk are the Rihanna of musical theater. Just as the Barbadian pop goddess releases hit song after hit song while selling relatively few albums, Kerrigan and Lowdermilk are less known for their plays than for their individual tunes, which have gained them a rabid online following. Their contemporaries Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (Dear Evan Hansen, La La Land) have conquered Broadway and Hollywood, but Kerrigan and Lowdermilk have connected with the millennial fan base like no other musical theater writers; they’re the official composers of the Internet. Now, several of their conversationally catchy pop songs have found their way into the long-gestating original musical The Mad Ones, playing at 59E59 Theaters.

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Peter Pan

Peter Pan

The boy who wouldn’t grow up has become the character who won’t die. J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan has been endlessly staged, filmed, remixed, twisted, and contorted since its 1904 premiere at the Duke of York’s Theatre, London, and the insatiable Pan pangs show no sign of ceasing. Bedlam’s current adaptation at another Duke, on 42nd Street, is the second Peter Pan–inspired show to run on the Deuce this season.

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Bright Colors and Bold Patterns

Bright Colors and Bold Patterns

“We celebrate things and make fun of them at the same time,” Gerry, the flamboyant middle-aged hero of Bright Colors and Bold Patterns, advises a 23-year-old. “That’s called gay.” And Gerry is gay—gay as a goose, gay as Provincetown, gay as a green carnation. He’s part P.T. Barnum, part Edward Everett Horton, part encyclopedic movie reference, and wildly passionate about everything he says. And plenty of what he says is outrageously funny. Played by the author, Drew Droege, Gerry (pronounced Gary) is a hoot to hang out with.

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Muswell Hill

Muswell Hill

A pot of monkfish stew sits on the stove for most of Muswell Hill, Torben Betts’s barbed comedy—simmering, bubbling, issuing forth its varied flavors gradually and subtly. As does Muswell Hill. Set in 2010 in the titular leafy upscale London suburb—the equivalent of, say, Saddle River on this side of the pond—Betts’s work presents a troubled dinner party of mismatched individuals and couples, talking past and misunderstanding one another, drinking too much even though at least two begin as teetotalers, letting their libidos lead them to unwise decisions, and revealing personality traits simultaneously unexpected and inevitable. We’re in what seems familiar Alan Ayckbourn territory for much of it, then the hurts and regrets pile up, and the curtain falls on a very funny comedy that has also become a sad commentary on human foibles.

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The Home Place

The Home Place

The “home place” in the title of Irish playwright Brian Friel's 2005 drama is Kent, England, where the family of widowed landowner Christopher Gore (John Windsor-Cunningham) originated. Gore, residing in Ballybeg, Ireland, speaks of Kent as a paradise lost, though he’s never really lived there. He and his son David (Ed Malone) administer their Irish estates with an uneasy liberality toward their tenants, made all the more uneasy by the recent murder of another local English landlord.

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Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train

Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train

New York Congressman Adriano Espaillat has called it “an 18th-century solution to a 21st-century problem.” New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio has vowed to shutter it in the next decade. Most people don’t think about it unless they’re flying out of LaGuardia, but many don’t have that luxury: Rikers Island, the bête noire of the East River, is one of the largest and worst prisons in America and a hotbed of violence and neglect. Stephen Adly Guirgis’ 2000 play Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, in revival at Signature Center, aims to counteract that neglect and remind its audience of the discarded, forgotten lives behind its iron gates.

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Wilde’s ‘Woman’ to get reading by Project Shaw

Gingold Theatrical Group will conclude its 12th season of Project Shaw at 7 p.m. on Dec. 18 with a rare staging of Oscar Wilde’s comedy A Woman of No Importance. Directed by the award-winning Charlotte Moore, the cast features Reed Birney, Cynthia Darlow, Andrea Lynn Green, Tim Jerome, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Robert Langdon Lloyd, Martha Plimpton, Margaret Loesser Robinson, Thom Sesma, and Jennifer Van Dyke The performance will be at Symphony Space’s Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theatre (2537 Broadway at 95th Street). Tickets are $35 and are available by calling (212) 864-5400 or online at www.symphonyspace.org.  

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The Trial of Typhoid Mary 1915

Since 2009, Live In Theater has reimagined the murder mystery genre by staging historic events within various nontraditional theatre spaces throughout New York City. The group specializes in interactive, true crime stories, putting some audience members at the center of the action. In The Trial of Typhoid Mary 1915, viewers are faced with the case of Mary Mallon, a domestic cook for affluent New York families during the early 1900s. As a silent carrier of the contagious bacteria that causes typhoid fever, Mallon infected more than 50 New Yorkers, resulting in at least three deaths. However, while Mallon was certainly not the only carrier of the disease, her status as an immigrant woman may have disadvantaged her in the justice system. It is up to the audience to decide whether Typhoid Mary should remain in quarantine for the rest of her natural life or be set free.

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Marcel + The Art of Laughter

Marcel + The Art of Laughter

The first thing to know about Marcel + The Art of Laughter is that they are two one-acts, not a single show. The first is named for one of the two performers in it: Marcello Magni—although using the French version of Marcello conveniently echoes the great mime Marcel Marceau. The second is a solo performance by Marcel’s compatriot in the first piece (and co-creator of it) Jos Houben, a Belgian. Their show is about clowning and laughter, and it has a particular European sensibility that’s engaging, offbeat and sometimes strangely familiar.

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