Don't-Miss List March 22-28: Irish theater, war stories

March 22, 2012

Dueling Critics on Eight Forty-Eight, WBEZ 91.5 FM and streaming live at wbez.org
Friday, March 23, 9 to 10 a.m., FREE

First, of course, don't miss Jonathan and me as we duel over Theo Ubique's The Light in the Piazza, a musical (or is it an opera?) set in Italy after the Second World War that asks the following musical question: Can a girl from Winston-Salem who's been kicked in the head by a pony find love with a boy from Florence whose parents run a tie shop? (No, I'm not making this up.)

With a score by composer-lyricist Adam Guettel, whose Floyd Collins was equally unconventional and showed him to be a major new talent, and a book by Craig Lucas whose Prelude to a Kiss is one of the most romantic plays of the past couple of decades, Piazza offers us plenty to talk about. We're on the radio Friday morning, and if you happen to miss the live segment you'll find it here on the site.

A Moon for the Misbegotten at Seanachai Theatre Company
March 23-April 29, Irish American Heritage Center, tickets $24-$28

What's so great about Seanachai is that it's transcended the default setting of Irish theater, namely, works about The Troubles. It certainly does work of that kind, like last year's spectacular Shadow of a Gunman; but it also does work from the Irish-American canon, and that's what's on tap beginning Friday night. Eugene O'Neill's A Moon for the Misbegotten is even more romantic than Prelude . . . (see above) and has all the richness of his best work without the egregious length of the magisterial Iceman and Long Day's Journey. This production features Steve Pickering as the tortured Jim Tyrone, and that would be reason enough to see the show even if the company weren't so reliably excellent. 

". . . drumming in the night" at Prop Thtr
March 23-April 29, 3502 N. Elston, tickets $15

Prop Thtr offers its own take on the current craze for work about World War I (War Horse, Downton Abbey, the soon-to-be-released Birdsong) in Bertolt Brecht's first produced play ". . . drumming in the night."  The company uses a new translation of this tale of a German soldier trying to reconstruct his life and reconnect with his love in defeated postwar Berlin. Brecht was one of the leading critics of the Nazi regime during its rise; look to this early piece to see how the First World War gave birth to the Second.