In this heartily American week some of the most appealing things to see are foreign, at least in part. For a more delicate food-related experience than Thanksgiving usually turns turn out to be, consider Lao She’s Teahouse, set in a Beijing establishment over the course of some fifty years that encompass three important moments in modern Chinese history, beginning in 1898. Sixty-plus characters that embody the vast changes in China come to life via the Beijing People’s Art Theatre, in NYC for the first time. Performances are in Mandarin, but there will be both subtitles and simultaneous translation with headphones in case you’re feeling a bit rusty on the language.
Also from distant shores is Beyond the Mirror, a collaboration between NYC's own Bond Street Theatre and Exile Theatre of Kabul that uses dance, music, film, puppets, and general physical creativity to incarnate the Afghani experience of what’s been a pretty endless stretch of war. The Bond Street folks met and started working with the Kabulis in Pakistan just after 9/11, and now Bond Street has a big grant from the State Dept. to continue working in Afghanistan for at least another three years, so hopefully there will be lots more of their innovative intercultural fare.
The Revenger’s Tragedy, written in the early 1600s by Thomas Kyd (maybe) doesn’t have quite the exotic origins of the first two, but it is set in Venice, at least, and is billed as a “Jacobean thriller” that also has elements of black comedy and satire underlying its story of the vengeful Vindice, whose crusading exposes the city’s corrupt heart. Red Bull Theater’s artistic director Jesse Berger has adapted the play; the promised “massacre of epic proportions” could make for good post-holiday catharsis.
The Act French festival has brought a great variety of performances to the city over the past couple months, and it hasn’t lost steam ahead of its mid-December finish. The latest is The Life and Death of Pier Paolo Pasolini, by Michel Azama; it’s a portrait, and investigation, of the titular Italian poet/filmmaker, who was murdered in 1975 under still-controversial circumstances, which is fitting since his life was filled with controversy. Sounds like just the spectacularly non-Thanksgiving sort of thing you may well be craving quite soon, though sadly it is in English.
Of course, you don’t have to be foreign to be exotic or wild and crazy, as Jake Broder is sure to demonstrate in His Royal Hipness Lord Buckley in the Zam Zam Room. It’s another portrait of sorts, with Broder taking on Buckley’s outrageous persona, which had a big effect on later performers ranging from Frank Sinatra to Robin Williams, or so we’re told. It’s a one-man performance but Broder is backed by a jazz band; he’s gotten rave reviews for the way he inhabits his character, so especially if you’re not familiar with Buckley, this should be a great introduction to him and his early brand of American counterculture.
If you don’t get exhausted by holidays as easily as we do and just want a straight-faced, solidly American show, there’s as much on now for you as ever; but if you’re looking for something a little different, these would all be good bets.
Details after the jump...
Details: Teahouse shows 11/27-12/1 at 8pm, Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace Univ. (3 Spruce St.) Tickets are here. Beyond the Mirror is at Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave., through Dec. 4, Thurs.-Sun. 8pm, Sun. 3pm (no perf. this Thurs.). Tickets at Theatermania. The Revenger’s Tragedy is at the Culture Project, 45 Bleecker, from Nov. 27-Dec. 18, generally Wed. thru Sat. 8pm, Sun. 7pm; see the full schedule here. Tickets are at Theatermania. The Life and Death of Pier Paolo Pasolini is at Abingdon Theatre Complex, 312 W. 36th St., 1st Fl., from today through Dec. 4, Tues.-Sat. 8pm, Sat. & Sun. 2pm (no show this Thurs.). Tickets via Smarttix. His Royal Hipness Lord Buckley in the Zam Zam Room is at 59E59 Theaters, 59 E. 59th St., Nov. 25-Dec. 31. Shows are Tues.-Fri. 8:30pm, Sat. 7 & 9:30pm, Sun. 4:30 & 7:30pm. Tickets at Ticket Central.