Monday, January 05, 2009

What Sounds Cool: January 2009

The following is a list of shows I'm excited to see. The capsules explain why, the links explain how. In December, I'll see how accurate my recommendations were, but understand this: I'm fairly confident I'll enjoy any show I list below.

COIL 2009 (1/6 - 1/14): Crossing over (and, for a few shows, in conjunction with) the Under the Radar festival at The Public, COIL is PS122's "best-of" display of more local (but no less edgier) artists. I can't make it to Welcome to Nowhere (bullet hole road), but having seen it in '08, I heartily recommend it. I'm also expecting good things from The Shalimar, who are punk enough to make Trash Warfare, their spin on Phaedra as "the original MILF" work.

Hedda Gabler (1/7 - 3/28): I love Mary Louise Parker. I like the few Ibsen plays I've studied. I think Christopher Shinn's a decently intellectual modernist. Did I mention that Paul Sparks, Michael Cerveris, and Peter Stormare are also in the cast? There are a million ways for this show to end up an utter disappointment, and yet, the odds are with this talented ensemble, a group that may help to encourage Roundabout to push their revivals much much further.

Under the Radar Festival 2009 (1/8 - 1/17): Flat-out necessary theater. This is your chance to see what people are doing around the world, not just in the corner of a basement bar. Mark Russell is a fairly good arbiter of taste, so far as those things go, and I'm excited to see The TEAM in action with Architecting, Def Poetry's Lemon back on the stage with a spoken-word show County of Kings, and Reggie Watts's Transition, even though I didn't like his last one (Disinformation)--I'm impressed enough by his magnetic personality to see what's new. Of course, what I'm most excited for are the site-specific works: Tim Crouch spins a scripted play in an art gallery (England) and Rimini Protokoll finds a way to outsource actors in the interactive theater, Call Cutta in a Box.

The Shipment (1/8 - 1/24): Though I wasn't sold on the discomforting self-inflicted violence in Young Jean Lee's slap-happy send-up Songs of the Dragon Flying to Heaven, Lee's voice-- now more inquisitively challenging than antagonistically rebellious (similar to the most recent work of Thomas Bradshaw)--found such a genuine truth in Church that I wouldn't dream of missing her now. In her latest, Lee looks at a subject that "makes her uncomfortable": the history of blacks in entertainment--from minstrel shows to stand-up acts--and the inherent racism that still leads to (if not encourages). Additionally, it's playing at The Kitchen, which is my sort of place: "If you can't stand the heat, don't go to see theater."

Sixty Miles to Silver Lake (1/15 - 2/8): It'll certainly be hard for SoHo Rep to top their last production, Blasted, but this intimate father-and-son two-hander from Dan LeFranc may catch the right mood. Odds are good, especially with Anne Kauffman directing, as her sense of playful realism on The Thugs should be a good match for a play that stretches the boundaries of a simple car ride.

Freshwater (1/15 - 2/15): These days, you have to sell a show as if you're operating a hedge fund. If you like Virginia Woolf, great: you'll be off to see this NY Premiere of her only play, and historians can marvel at the way the 1923 and 1935 versions have been combined. If you're afraid of Virginia Woolf, you can go simply because Anne Bogart's directing the thing, and you know well enough that that means it's going to have a distinct look and feel to it. Hate both those artists? You can still go, simply on the very bankable reputation of Women's Project!

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