If there was ever a year for play about the terrifying absurdity of mass conformity, this is it. In Eugène Ionesco’s 1959 play Rhinoceros a man, Bérenger, watches his friends turn one by one into rhinos. Finally, he stands alone. Ionesco, a French playwright with a penchant for taking things to their literal extreme, was at the fore of the European avant-garde theatre from the moment he started writing in the late 1940s. Rhinoceros was his artistic stand against movements like the rise of Romania’s fascist Iron Guard in the ’30s.
Sept. 8–Oct. 8 / 12th Avenue Arts
The Trial of
The Moonshine Revival Tent is back to tell you of the The Trial of Pastor Goodson, in a way that only Moonshine can. The brainchild of local writer/storyteller Bret Fetzer and musicians Sari Breznau and Eric Padget (aka Future Fridays), the Moonshine Revival Tent combines storytelling and choral singing to delicious theatrical effect. This time around, they’re telling the tale of Pastor Summit Goodson, leader of the second-smallest congregation in the new colony of Rhode Island, who takes three members of his flock into the forest to convert the heathen.
Sept. 15–17 / West of Lenin
The Wedding Gift/
The Summer House
The flagship shows of Forward Flux’s second season are again running in a sort-of repertory at Gay City Arts—a few nights have one play only, but the company’s calling card is the double header, which lets you see both (relatively short) plays in one night, if you’re feeling ambitious. The works on offer are the West Coast premiere of Chisa Hutchinson’s The Wedding Gift and the world premiere of Sarah Bernstein’s The Summer House.
The Wedding Gift, billed by the Washington Post as “a sci-fi parable about slavery,” is a dark comedy with a bizarre, pitch-black premise: One day, in a world set “so far in the future it’s stupid,” a regular guy named Doug finds himself suddenly and intergalactically sex-trafficked, to be presented as a wedding gift to a princess of a strange world with a strange language. In The Summer House, three teenagers are spending the last days of summer vacation in a rented beach house, partying as long as possible after their other friends have gone home. But their debauchery is tempered by the recent disappearance of a local girl—an incident in which they are all implicated.
Sept. 20–Oct. 8
Gay City Arts
Local treasure and whip-smart drag queen BenDeLaCreme is a master balancer of funny and philosophical. In this new solo show, which had a successful run off-Broadway this summer, she delves into Dante’s Inferno with “brimstone and rhinestones.” BenDeLa was a fan-favorite on Season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, hosts/narrates Wes Hurley’s bonkers web series Capitol Hill and is one of three producers behind Homo for the Holidays and other DeLaRue productions.
Sept. 23–Oct. 1
Oddfellows Building, West Hall
Revolt. She said. Revolt again
The ferociousness and frailty of language are on sharp display in Revolt. She said. Revolt again, Alice Birch’s absurd feminist manifesto for and about modern women, and how they fit (or don’t) with the world we live in. Washington Ensemble Theatre presents the play’s West Coast premiere, fresh off its U.S. premiere at SoHo Rep this spring where it was a New York Times critics pick. Ensemble member Bobbin Ramsey directs the piece, which is made up of short, intersecting and interconnecting vignettes. Revolt kicks off WET’s 13th season, Breakdown, which is just what it sounds like: three plays that dig their fingers into issues of collapse, chaos and control—and the messy, complex and critical process of breaking down so you can be built back up.
Sept. 23–Oct. 10
12th Avenue Arts
Ghosts isn’t Henrik Ibsen’s most famous play—Hedda Gabler and A Doll’s House are much more often produced—but it could very well be his most outrageous. It certainly was when it premiered in 1882 and sent critics and theatregoers alike into paroxysms of indignant, disgusted rage. It may have been the overt references to incest, infidelity and venereal disease that did it, but just as chilling (if not more so now) are the hypocrisies and endless moral compromises of the middle class, which playwright/director Richard Eyre has rootled out so brilliantly in this adaptation. The short version: A widow, Helene Alving, is building an orphanage to honor her long-dead husband, but her motivations are much more complicated than simple philanthropy.
Sept. 22 – Oct. 23
Alexi Kaye Campbell’s Olivier Award-winning play The Pride pairs two starkly different versions of male homosexuality, one from the 1950s and the other from the 21st century, side-by-side, to show us just how much has changed in 50 years, and how much hasn’t. Theatre22 presents the play, which tells two love stories, once from each era, in alternating scenes. In the ’50s, Philip is married to Sylvia, an illustrator working with children’s book author Oliver—with whom Philip feels a very palpable connection. In the 21st century, Oliver is a journalist whose lover Philip has just left him, and who seeks comfort from his best friend Sylvia.
Oct. 28 – Nov. 19
12th Avenue Arts
This sexy, pop-rock chamber musical is the equivalent of a smoky downtown club: impossibly intoxicating, both because of and in spite of its grittiness. It’s steamy fun of a modern pulp variety, a sung-through story of lust, betrayal and, duh, murder. Murder Ballad starts, as so many good stories do, with two hot, young people, obsessed with being young and hot and in New York City. When Sara and Tom’s love sours, they both move on in very different ways—she heads to the Upper West Side, land of doorman buildings and secure married life; he stays down in the Lower East Side, tending bar and women. They can’t stay away from one another, and the jagged love triangles they form have understandably dangerous results. Presented by Sidecountry Theatre and directed by local musical theatre fave Billie Wildrick.
Oct. 17–Nov. 13
West of Lenin