The cool air inside theaters that we touted all summer isn’t exactly an attraction now – at times you might find yourself wishing you were under the nice warm spotlight – and most off-off-Broadway shows don’t have plush seats you can snuggle into, but there are a number on this week that should make you forget the cold, at least mostly. House of No More, at Dance Theater Workshop, sounds like the kind of show that will both enthrall and assault you enough to do this warming well. It’s the final installation of Caden Manson/Big Art Group’s Real Time Film trilogy and uses three cameras and three screens to manipulate images and create, um, a real time film. It sounds like the plot (a thriller about a woman searching for her missing child) takes a distant third in importance compared to the artistic philosophy and avant-garde execution, but we’ll go with it – just from the trailer on the group’s website, it looks pretty overwhelming, in a good way.
There always seem to be far fewer Jewish plays than Christian-themed ones this time of year. Golgotha, written by Shmuel Refael and opening tomorrow at La MaMa, isn’t about a Jewish holiday, but it does tell a story about a Jew and a lighting ceremony. A more detailed plot description – a Holocaust survivor remembers the death camps and wrestles with his identity as a Sephardic Jew as he anticipates getting to light the torch at Jerusalem’s Holocaust commemoration ceremony – shows that it’s a bit on the heavy side to be what we think of as a holiday show, but still, we’d be willing to bet that Victor Attar’s solo performance is going to be worth sobering up a little for.
But if you have to have something lighter, there’s another one-man show bound to please. At Manhattan Theatre Source, Jason Grossman performs the whole of It’s A Wonderful Life all on his own. The show premiered to good reviews in 2000 and has had multiple runs since; it’s no mean feat to shift from angel to suicidal sad sack to wide-eyed child as energetically and convincingly as Grossman does, especially considering the lack of spectacular sets or costumes. We haven’t met many people who’ve never seen the movie, but whether you have or not, It’s A Wonderful (One Man Show) Life will probably warm your heart (hopefully keeping you warm in your seat at the same time).
At Theater for the New City there’s another show about people jumping off bridges: Your Town, which is lovably billed as featuring “love, death, guns and one rowdy cat.” It takes place in an upstate NY town where people keep committing suicide. Maybe it’s because of the cold; it’s not the cat’s fault, at least. The comedy in this play by Walter Corwin arises from that reliable source, the collision of some very different personalities; if you can’t stand the thought of watching George Bailey get saved one more time, this rather more bizarro set-up may be for you.
Finally, to round off our harping on the temperature, and in keeping with our well established weakness for festivals, we’ll mention "Cold Snaps," a winter one-act series running at the WorkShop Theater Company. It features four plays: Down The Shaw (by Gary Giovannetti), Stone Soup (by Dana Leslie Goldstein), The Last Seder (by Allan Knee) and The Aquatic Ape (by Joy Wilkinson). Collections of short pieces like this are great in general because if one is bad you know you won’t have to suffer through an hour or more of a single story that's dragging on before being able to escape at intermission; but the WorkShop company usually has quite entertaining stuff even in early stages, so it's unlikely that you'll have to sit in the audience tapping your foot impatiently through a bad piece. Tap your foot if you must, but do it to keep warm.
Details after the jump...
Details: House of No More is at Dance Theatre Workshop (219 W. 19th St.) through Dec. 22. Shows are Tues.-Sat. 7:30pm, Sat. also at 10pm. Tickets here. Golgotha is at La MaMa, 74A E. 4th St., through Dec. 22, Tues.-Sun. 8pm, Sun. 2:30pm. Tickets at Theatermania. It’s A Wonderful (One Man Show) Life is at Manhattan Theatre Source, 177 MacDougal, through Dec. 29. See the schedule here. Your Town is at Theater for the New City, 155 1st Ave., through Dec. 30, Thurs.-Sat. 8pm, Sun. 3pm. Tickets at Theatermania. "Cold Snaps" is at the WorkShop Theater Company, 312 W. 36th St., through Dec. 17 with performances at 8pm each night. Call 212-695-4173 x 4 for tickets.