Much as we love and support theatre, we can see past our enthusiasm to grasp the fact that few people are going to go to a show tonight for their Valentine’s Day dates (and those who are surely already have tickets). Today is interesting from a theatrical perspective for another reason, though, which is that it’s the deadline for entries to the 2006 Fringe Festival. Hard to believe it’s only six months away now; even with snowdrifts outside our window, it seems like we only just finished racing from theater to theater in the heat. Thinking of those snowdrifts and the forty icy puddles we’ve sloshed through today, we can only hope that the cold and the next six months will pass as quickly. So, with an eye toward summer and away from February and valentines, here are some decidedly unromantic picks for the week.

2006_02_arts_retzach.jpgFor getting away from lovey-dovey stuff, you can’t do much better than Retzach, written by the acclaimed Israeli playwright Hanoch Levin and described by producing company VOICETheatre as “a heart wrenching dance of death. The play follows three intertwined lives, beginning when a father discovers that his young son has been murdered by soldiers engaged in war, and the situation escalates (or spirals down) from there. The show has music and life-sized puppets, but we don’t expect either of these to lighten the mood as they sometimes do. Retzach won the Best Play spot in the 1998 Israel Theater Awards, and this production of it, directed by Shauna Kanter, was developed and is performed by both Palestinian and Israeli artists; potent seems like too weak a word for it.

Itching for more dark, deep-thinking foreign fare? Fresh from Poland at LaMaMa, check out Odchodzi/Passing Away, which takes on the “solitude and mystery of a loved one’s passing” but does so not via black crepe and keening but rather live scat singing, and non-speaking actors and innovative lighting. Created by Leszek Madzik on his avant-garde troupe Scena Plastyczna KUL, the performance is adapted from preeminent Polish author Tadeusz Rozewicz’s Matka Odchodzi. Unlike Retzach, Odchodzi sounds as though it will be a fairly uplifting take on death , so this might be the best choice if you need an easier step down after your sugar high from Valentine’s Day.

Details and more after the jump...


Foreign playwrights and theater groups obviously don’t have a lock on the creation of disturbing productions, and right now you can see two stagings of characteristically twisted plays by Richard Foreman in addition to his latest, Zomboid, which is going at the Ontological Theater. The other two, Symphony of Rats and Film is Evil: Radio Is Good, have come back courtesy of director Ian Hill, who has refashioned them according to Foreman’s specifications, which is to say without any of Foreman’s distinctive marks included. So, if you’re not a Foreman fan you might like these anyway, and if you don’t know his work you can enjoy these very fractured tales (Symphony of Rats imagines that the US President has started hearing voices and believing that rats are taking over; Film is Evil… puts the world’s last filmmaker in a zoo run by a diabolical radio producer) for the first time.

Finally, we’ll give in slightly on the anti-romance theme, but only because this show has to do with the Olympics, which need all the promotion they can get, plus it was part of the 2004 Fringe, which makes it an appropriate choice today. Kiss and Cry, by Tom Rowan, is about the media-driven “romance” between a male figure skater on his way to the Games and a movie starlet on her way to the top – but both of them are in the closet. Sounds to us like the perfect early 21st century love story – a good time whether you’re gay, straight, happy with love or desperate to have the red heart-bedecked Valentine’s season over with already.

2006_02_arts_symphony.jpgDetails: Retzach is at 59E59 Theaters, 59 E. 59th St., through 3/12, with performances Wed.-Sat. 8:15pm, Sat. also 2:15pm, Sun. 3:15 and 7:15pm. Tickets via Ticket Central.

Ochodzi is at LaMama, 74A East 4th St., through 3/5. Shows are Thurs.-Sat. 8pm, Sun. 2:30 and 7:30pm. Tickets here.

Symphony of Rats and Film is Evil: Radio is Good are at the Brick Theater in Williamsburg, 575 Metropolitan Ave., through Feb. 26. Performance schedule varies; see the theater website for dates and times.

Kiss and Cry is at Theater Ten Ten http://www.theatertenten.com, 1010 Park Ave., through Mar. 12. Shows are Fri-Sat and Mon. 8pm, Sun. 3pm. Call 212-288-3246 for ticket reservations.