Theater to See This Weekend Nov 20-22: Luis Alfaro, Adrienne Kennedy Festivals. Starry Chekhov. Clownish Beckett.

There are many terrific-sounding shows opening this weekend, listed in my day-by-day monthly calendar  but the seven plays below are treats for serious theater lovers — which is not to say these treats are all easily digestible.

The Greek Trilogy of Luis Alfaro

Luis Alfaro, MacArthur “genius,” celebrated Chicano performance artist, writer, theater director, teacher and social activist, has turned his sights on Greek tragedy, The Greek Trilogy of Luis Alfaro adapts plays by Sophocles and Euripides to address modern Latinx life.  I saw productions of two of the plays at the Public Theater and was blown away. Now Center Theater Group of Los Angeles is mounting all three online; one debuted las week, the other two launch this weekend. All are then available through January 20th.

Oedipus El Rey
The story of Oedipus killing his father and marrying his mother is merged with the feel of the streets — the humor, hardness, hardship and rhythms of the barrio.
(My review of that production.)

Launches Friday 8 p.m
The play places Medea as a modern-day undocumented Mexican immigrant living unhappily in U.S..An arresting adaptation: (My review of the 2019 production at the Public Theater, when she lived in the borough of Queens. The new production will have her living in LA)

Launches Sunday at 8 p.m.
An adaptation of Electra. In the days following the murder of her father by her mother, Electricidad is committed to vengeance. To get it, she’ll need her brother, Orestes, to return from Las Vegas and help her finish the job.


The Work of Adrienne Kennedy: Inspiration & Influence 

There will be four plays in a festival of the work of the 89-year-old  pioneering experimental playwright Adrienne Kennedy (best known for Funnyhouse of a Negro), produced in conjunction with McCarter Theater. One opened last Saturday, one is opening this Saturday. (The other two will open on Saturdays in December.)

He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box: This lyrical play is her most recent, about an interracial affair in the segregated South of 1941. (My review of the New York production

Sleep Deprivation Chamber: Teddy is a young Black college student studying theatre, but his senior year becomes a waking nightmare when the officer accuses him of assault. Written by Adrienne Kennedy and her own son, Adam, the semi-autobiographical drama shifts between Teddy’s trial and the unrelenting letters his sleepless mother writes in his defense.

On Beckett
Available through Sunday.
Bill Irwin, serious Tony-winning actor, writer and master clown, brings back his much-praised solo exploration of the words of Samuel Beckett, whom he calls “the famous Irish writer of famously difficult writing,” this time in a digital production filmed in the otherwise empty Irish Rep.

Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya
Available through November 23
Neil LaBute (!) adapts Chekhov’s play for Broadway’s Best Shows’ Spotlight on Plays
starring Alan Cumming, Samira Wiley, Constance Wu, Ellen Burstyn, Manik Choksi, K. Todd Freeman, Mia Katigbak, Anson Mount. Narrated by Gabriel Ebert. Directed by Danya Taymor.


Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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