Through May 13
If you don’t know the name Branden Jacobs-Jenkins yet, you will (and you should!). The inventive, curious playwright is a Pulitzer finalist and a MacArthur Genius Grant winner, and ArtsWest is finally bringing his work—in this case his Obie-winning play An Octoroon—to Seattle. Brandon J. Simmons directs the piece, a super-stylized, comic explosion of Dion Boucicault’s 1859 play The Octoroon, in which a young plantation heir falls in love with a beautiful woman who is one-eighth Black—an octoroon. Additional characters include Jacobs-Jenkins, Boucicault and Brer Rabbit, among others.
Through May 14
In Jennifer Haley’s clever and truly creepy play The Nether, produced in its Seattle premiere by Washington Ensemble Theatre and directed by Bobbin Ramsey, a detective investigates an online world, an “interactive playground” where men come to play out their most reprehensible sexual fantasies. These are largely uncharted moral and technological waters in our society, and Haley’s ability to probe this murky, Black Mirror-level future will make your thoughts race and your skin crawl.
12th Avenue Arts
Through May 20
Actor-playwright Danai Gurira, the Tony-nominated writer of Eclipsed, takes audiences to wintry Minnesota, inside the suburban home of the Chinyaramwira family the night before a wedding. Donald and Marvelous’s oldest daughter, Tendi, is marrying her boyfriend, Chris, and everything is going according to plan until the bride reveals that she plans to include a traditional Zimbabwean wedding custom in her big day. Also, yes, Gurira plays Okoye in Black Panther which is basically the coolest role of all time. And her playwriting is just as badass.
Seattle Repertory Theatre
I’m consistently impressed with theatre company Forward Flux’s commitment to walking the walk when it comes to developing and/or continuing to develop new work and supporting playwrights. Their latest production is the West Coast premiere of Claire Kiechel’s spacebound sci-fi thriller Pilgrims, which was on the 2016 Kilroy List. On a spaceship, somewhere between earth and the newly discovered planet they’re bound to colonize, a soldier, a girl and a robot are quarantined. In these close confines, “the soldier and the girl are forced to examine their past traumas and their roles in a dying society.” Emily Penick directs.
West of Lenin
Little Shop of Horrors
Reboot Theatre Company is all about upending gendered casting expectations, an important mission that results in exciting theatre. I’m excited to see what they do with this musical, which, with its eclectic, doo-wop-y score by Alan Menken and strange, sentimental book by Howard Ashman, has long been one my personal faves. The company’s production of Little Shop of Horrors stars Dani Hobbs as schlumpy plant-store employee Seymour and Tipsy Rose Lee as down-on-her-luck florist’s assistant Audrey, with Kristie Werner as Audrey II, the bloodthirsty alien plant that takes over their lives.
May 11–June 3
Hand to God
After his dad dies, a meek Texas boy named Jason takes comfort in the good works of the Christian Puppet Ministry, a faith-based craft group run by his mother in a church basement. But instead of a sartorial conveyer of Bible stories, Jason’s sock puppet becomes a foul-mouthed creature with a mind of its own—and a name. Tyrone is the total opposite of meek Jason, spewing forth every vile sentiment that crosses his puppet mind. Kelly Kitchens directs this blackest, most hilarious of comedies.