Glad you asked! There’s plenty of fine New York theater that deserves your attention. My picks, in order of when they’re closing:
The Other Here Quirky, delicate, funny strangeness from Big Dance Theater. They gently mash together Japanese folk culture, Okinawan pop and found text from an American convention of life-insurance salesmen. The result? Lightly ironized “Orientalism” with an undercurrent of sadness. Wonderful performances and choreography by Annie-B Parson. Plus, Heather Christian’s too-brief songs will drive you mad with rhapsodic pleasure (she sounds just like Regina Spektor). Full review here. At Dance Theater Workshop through Saturday.
100 Saints You Should Know Reviewing Kate Fodor’s acutely touching slice-of-life about finding and losing one’s faith, Ben Brantley at the Times likened it to a Lifetime TV movie. That was a terrible, disrespectful misrepresentation of a well crafted, finely observed human drama. As a raging atheist, I could have foamed at the mouth that Fodor was being a liberal religious crypto-apologist, but her portraiture work and gift for dialogue is just too well shaded. Love Jeremy Shamos’ sexually miserable priest. The Scrabble-game scene between him and his mother captures perfectly the child who has evolved beyond his parents, yet still longs for approval. Read my colleague Adam Feldman’s lovely review here. At Playwrights Horizons through Sunday.
Have You Seen Steve Steven? I just saw Ann Marie Healy’s creepy, 70-minute comedy last night and found it fascinating, scary, deeply sad, obliquely truthful and a bit perplexing. Go see it. In a nondescript “Midwestern McMansion,” a teenage girl and her parents prepare for a dinner party with neighbors. The girl seems disoriented; she doesn’t remember a boy who is supposed to be her childhood friend. Her parents burble and babble. Pauses impregnate. A next-door neighbor insinuates himself into the house. The language rides a line between Ionesco’s idiotic iterations of bourgeois chatter and Edward Albee’s coded, menacing banter. This is a play about growing up and away from your parents, even as biology and social networks try to squeeze you into their mold. It’s about the horror of uniformity and the instability of memory. It’s about the dark underside of a child’s defensive imagination. I related deeply. Charles Isherwood did not. In his sometimes perceptive but callow, condescending review, he found little to encourage in this play, or Anne Kauffman’s superb production for 13P. He claimed it had nothing really to say about human beings, which is untrue. (In case you haven't noticed by now, he has severe taste and tone problems.) Feingold at the Voice was more encouraging, but he adopted a schoolmarmish tone and suggested the talented Healy go back to school. I will admit that the last section of the play—when it veers into heavy Ionesco territory and then ends on a note of ambivalent cosmic resignation— is problematic. I feel like it might have been a large, disturbing play about Americans and their families, but settled for being small and odd. Too few reviews I've read note that the play is more than an exercise in language games and atmospherics: There’s a deep, philosophical vein of intense sadness running through it, perfectly captured in Stephanie Wright Thompson’s pretty, neutral face, beginning to cloud over with self-doubt and fear. The Playgoer has a smart, corrective review here. Aaron Riccio proved similarly sensitive and Helen Shaw gives the show its due in TONY here. At the 14th Street Theater through October 6.
American Sligo Speaking of fucked-up families, you will not have more down-and-dirty fun than at Adam Rapp’s pro-wrestling-as-a-metaphor- for-father-son-dysfunction. Rapp proves again what a good director he is, and the play is full of great one liners, banter, bickering. Dad’s a hugely fat pro wrestling legend. Son is a malicious cokehead. Son #2 is a fat layabout. Aunt is on antidepressants and won’t shut up. Then there's Bobby, a jittery freak of superfan. It’s all very Shepard. I’ve heard Rapp wrote the play expressly for the amazing cast, and it shows. Those brilliant actors are: Guy Boyd, Marylouise Burke, Michael Chernus, Megan Mostyn-Brown, Emily Cass McDonnell, Paul Sparks, and Matthew Stadelmann. Does the play end on a gratuitous bloody note that feels right and wrong at the same time? Yes. Do we want to get to know these characters more? Yes. Are there huge leaps of faith you have to make with the plot? Yes. But there’s lots of fun to be had at this grungy frolic. My review is here. Rattlestick Playwrights Theater through October 14.