The Times’ season previews are always a shot in the arm of a little excitement, a chance to see some splashy ads and to fantasize about the shows you’re not going to be able to get tickets to. Actually, we could have used the buzz we got from Sunday’s listings more a couple of weeks ago; at this point there’s so much starting up that it’s hard to avoid, much less that anyone needs to be told about them, at least with the big-name productions. Littler shows wouldn’t be able to afford sets or costumes if they advertised or put together fancy press kits for listings editors, but we’re psyched about them anyway.

2006_02_arts_sakegeisha.jpgFirst, following on the heels of the interesting transatlantic show reviewed here Sunday (Thousand Years Waiting, at PS 122), which made use of traditional Japanese puppetry, there’s Sake with the Haiku Geisha, a play that Randall David Cook wrote after working as an English teacher in Japan, which incorporates elements of Noh theater with a modern voice. It’s about a group of foreign teachers who are plied with sake by a geisha who speaks exclusively in haiku and whose ministrations get the foreigners to reveal more of themselves than they probably expected to.

Perry St. Theater // 31 Perry Street // Mon.-Sat. 8pm, Sat. 3pm thru April 8 // Tickets at Theatermania

Another show blending ancient with contemporary is Wrecked, which is Andrea Arden’s “explosion” of Aeschylus’ Oresteia into bits that then hook up unexpectedly with other styles and ideas. We have a soft spot in our heart for shows that do this sort of deconstruction of Greek classics, since one such was what got us hooked on theatre, and Theatre Lila’s production looks like it will be similarly fresh and startling and not all that like the vaguely musty translation of the Oresteia you may have read in college.

American Theatre of Actors // 314 W. 54th St. // Opens Fri., shows Wed.-Fri. 8pm // Tickets at Smarttix

Fairly frequently, we’ll come across a press release or show website that aims to drum up interest by being almost completely silent about what the play’s plot is. Usually this is just annoying, but sometimes our interest is properly piqued, and such is the case with Any Old Company’s new production Brilliant Traces, which opens today at the Gene Frankel Theater. From what we can glean of it, Cindy Lou Johnson’s story is about two strangers who come together via “mysterious circumstances” that gradually reveal the sometimes bizarre stories of each. Maybe we just fell for the hype but we're intrigued.

Gene Frankel Theater // 24 Bond St. // Every day 8pm // Tickets at Theatermania

Vying for the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it award this week is Tim & Ida, an improv musical comedy created and performed by Bryan Grossbauer and Mike Papaleo, aka the company Tree Theatre. The two bring to life a varied assortment of characters, the denizens of the Shady Pines Nursing Home; it’s “a love story for all ages” because the title pair are age 27 and 83, respectively. And if you’re not drawn to it for that Harold and Maude-ishness, consider going for the rapping doctors.

Greenwich Village Center // 219 Sullivan St. // Fri. and Sat. at 8pm // Call 212-841-0312 for reservations

2006_02_arts_darkling.jpgFinally, the Gothamist pick of the week is Darkling, a mix of opera and theatre directed by Michael Comlish and based on a book-length poem by Anna Rabinowitz. That work is an unflinching, though fragmented, look at her family’s Holocaust experience, which she confronted after finding a shoebox of photos and letters. Stefan Weisman composed most of the music; it’s being produced by American Opera Projects, which is dedicated to pushing the boundaries of opera. It sounds dark, complicated, and intense, and we suspect that regardless of your level of interest in either theater or opera, you'll be stunned by it, in a good way.

East Thirteenth St. Theatre // 136 E. 13th St. // Tues., Thurs.-Sat. 8pm // Tickets via Ticket Central