Maybe it’s just us, but even with spring’s approach an unusual degree of anomie seems to be hanging over everything, slightly twisting and darkening many of the new season’s shows. Not all of them, of course; it is possible to still to see truly lighthearted fare on stage. So do you want to see something that matches the prevailing mood or challenges it? Here are a few options that go both ways:

2006_03_arts_endsofearth.jpgIn The Ends of the Earth, Morris Panych tells the story of Frank Gardener and Henry Walker, two guys who are obsessed with fear and paranoia, a condition that, not surprisingly, turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy as they flee for what they think is safe harbor only to end up confronted by what they thought they were escaping. While that sounds fairly dark, the pair run into various lively characters on their respective ways, encounters that will likely spark some needed laughs.

Sanford Meisner Theater // 164 11th Ave. // Starts Thurs. and runs through Mar. 26., Wed.-Sat. 8pm, Sat.-Sun. 2pm // Tickets via Theatermania

Tanya Krohn’s two-part play The Territory is a good example of this anomie. The first segment is about a “comfortably isolated” man whose blithe attitude runs into trouble when his junk mail starts to stalk him; the second segment features a “Home Security” salesman who keeps plugging along trying to sell his product to one neighborhood despite people's refusal to pay attention or care. Together they sound like they have the potential to be fairly unsettling.

West End Theatre // 263 W. 86th St. // Runs through Apr. 1, Thurs.-Sat. 8pm, Sun. 2pm // Tickets via Smarttix

Meanwhile, at La MaMa get your Trojan War on with Theodora Skipitares’ Trilogy, which is comprised of Iphigenia, Helen, and Odyssey, each focusing on a different time of the war. There’s been a bit of arms race lately in the world of off-Broadway puppetry, with more shows incorporating it in some form, and more of it. The Trilogy is a case in point: it uses over 100 puppets in a variety of styles, accompanied by original music. Set aside a Sunday to go, when you can see all three in an afternoon-evening binge of ancient Greek goodness.

La MaMa Etc. // 74A E. 4th St. // Opens Thurs., through Apr. 2, with shows Thurs.-Sun. 7:30pm and Sun. 2:30pm; see website for which shows are when and to buy tickets

When a book seems like an obvious candidate for becoming a musical (or movie), that to us is a bad sign. We probably wouldn’t have pegged Hesse’s Siddhartha as having potential off the page, so maybe that will work in favor of Sidd, Andrew Frank and Doug Silver’s musical adaptation of the novel about one man’s winding course of spiritual seeking and finding through life. If it doesn’t succumb to the too-grand impulses that sank the production of Midnight’s Children we saw a few years back, it could be a real delight.

Dodger Stages // 340 W. 50th St. // Tues.-Sat. 8pm, Wed. & Sat. 2pm, Sun. 3pm // Tickets via Telecharge

2006_03_arts_nightnov.jpgFinally, for St. Patrick’s Day we’ll be uncharacteristically festive and make Irish playwright Marie Jones’ A Night in November the Gothamist Pick of the Week. It’s about Kenneth McAllister, a good Belfast bloke who wouldn’t know anomie if it pinched him: he’s content with where he is and what he’s doing, which is to follow the rules – until the day he jets off for New York to watch Ireland play in the World Cup, and everything is turned on its head. We enjoyed Jones’ play Stones In His Pockets when we saw it in London, so if this one lives up to the praise for its earlier run here and abroad, it should be funny and heart-lightening enough to shake us out of anomie whether we want to be or not.

Irish Arts Center // 553 W. 51st St. // Through Apr. 2, shows Tues.-Sat. 8pm, Sun. 3pm // Tickets via Smarttix