Not So Little Plays

The 9 Most interesting theatrical productions coming your way over the next few months

Photo by Cristofer Gross/SCRFleetwood Macbeth. Grove Theater Center, Sept. 5-13. Matt Walker is the funniest man alive, and will likely prove it once again when his Troubadour Theater Company returns to Orange County this weekend. The troupe's latest high-octane reconstitution of Shakespeare's work imagines the tragedy of a Scottish king as told through the music of Fleetwood Mac. WHAT THE WEEKLY WILL SAY: Is Matt Walker a god encased in a human shell? Based on this production, we say, "Amen!" The tragedy of murderous King Macbeth has never sounded funnier.

Menopause: The Musical. The Curtis Theatre. Sept. 11-16. For months, the press people at the Curtis Theatre have been hyping this show with phrases like "a mature generation of baby-boomers has embraced a new 'cult' musical that makes hot flashes so much more than a flash in the pan." We know very little about any of this—menopausal hot flashes, baby boomers, the word cult in quotation marks, or Menopause: The Musical. But it's billed as a "hilarious musical comedy [and] a celebration of women that features parody songs and outspoken observations." WHAT THE WEEKLY WILL SAY: Apparently, this show was a big hit in New York City. Then again, so was Sept. 11.

Anna in the Tropics. South Coast Repertory, Sept. 28-Oct. 19. South Coast Repertory has had this Nilo Cruz work on its short list of plays to produce for some time. That's why the theater was flashing a big ol' goofy smile when the play—and Cruz—won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for drama. It's set in a cigar factory in 1929 Miami, where the public reading of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina invigorates the lives of Cuban American laborers. WHAT THE WEEKLY WILL SAY:Sure, this is a wonderfully written and richly evocative play, but the best thing to report is that after writing the title dozens of times we finally just got it!

Madame Guignol's Macabre Theatre. Hunger Artists Theatre Company, Oct. 10-Nov. 1. This is the eighth installment of the Halloween show that helped launch the Hunger Artists. It's always a bloodbath, always sexy, always a fun evening. But this time around, the origin of the erotically twisted Madame Guignol is explored in the context of some alternative takes on the Grimms' fairy tales. WHAT THE WEEKLY WILL SAY: The best time we've had with our clothes on since, well, ever.

The Romance of Magno Rubio. Laguna Playhouse, Nov. 8-Dec. 7. A romantic comedy set in Depression-era California about a Filipino migrant farmworker head over heels in love but whose lack of English stymies his amorous pursuits. It is produced in conjunction with New York's Ma-Yi Theater Company. WHAT THE WEEKLY WILL SAY: We generally loathe all things silly, lighthearted, romantic and touching. But, by gum and by jingo, the enthusiasm and verve of this show is as infectious as the Ebola virus—and way more fun!

Waiting for Godot. Insurgo Theater Movement, Dec. 12-Jan. 4. The going theory is that Samuel Beckett's comic masterpiece is the one 20th-century play people 500 years from now will read in order to know who and what we were. If for no other reason, that's cause to celebrate any local production. WHAT THE WEEKLY WILL SAY: You have to admire the chutzpah of John Beane and Russ Marchand, the two performers who star as Godot's comic tramps, Vladimir and Estragon. But you really have to question their decision to direct themselves in this production. The only person less likely to direct this piece would be Beckett. And he's dead.

The Mercy Seat. The Hunger Artists. February. Neil Labute—a scorching commodity both onscreen and onstage—wrote this Sept. 11 play in which not everyone's so heroic. That's one reason, the rumor goes, that few theaters have attempted to mount this piece. WHAT THE WEEKLY WILL SAY: Where most theaters think they're taking risks by staging Labute's very popular The Shape of Things, the Hunger Artists continue to look to lesser-known, dangerous plays by major playwrights.

Valparaiso. Rude Guerrilla, January. Because of his insights into contemporary culture, Don DeLillo is just about our favorite novelist. He's just as powerful as a playwright, here exploring the modern psyche and contemporary media through the story of a guy who takes the wrong plane and becomes a celebrity. WHAT THE WEEKLY WILL SAY: No nudity? No excessive violence? No pathologically twisted protagonists? Is Rude Guerrilla finally selling out?

Safe in Hell. South Coast Repertory, April 2-May 9. Amy Freed's wildly imaginative riff on the Salem witch trials centers around an intense father-son dynamic, the relationship between Increase and Cotton Mather. Freed is wickedly talented and this play, based on a reading earlier this year at South Coast Repertory, is as smart as it is satirical. WHAT THE WEEKLY WILL SAY: Did we like it? Hell, yes!

 
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