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Raise the curtain

From classic to contemporary
By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  December 28, 2011

SIMPLY SINATRA PPAC will host Come Fly Away.

There's plenty of theater to keep us warm in Rhode Island through the winter. From the professional companies to the colleges, there are shows for every taste and mood.

At the anchor theater, Trinity Repertory Company, we're getting a typical mix. Shakespeare's THE MERCHANT OF VENICE will be staged February 3-March 4, and three plays will be performed in repertory: SPARROW GRASS, Curt Columbus's adaptation of Racine's tragedy PHAEDRA (February 16-May 13); LOVE ALONE, by resident playwright Deborah Salem Smith (February 28-May 27); and George Brant's THE MOURNERS' BENCH (March 7-May 24).

At the Gamm, they're starting their year with the New England premiere of FESTEN (January 12-February 12), by British playwright David Eldridge. A hit on both the London and Broadway stages, it centers around the sudden revelation of a Danish family's dark secret.

In Warren, 2nd Story Theatre presents TAKE ME OUT, by Richard Greenberg (January 13-February 12) and AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY, by Tracy Letts (March 2-April 1). The first is set in the locker room of a professional baseball team, where the banter of the all-male cast gets into everything from homophobia to the definition of masculinity. The Letts play, a 2008 Pulitzer Prize winner, is a dark comedy set in an Oklahoma household and involves a dying poet, a brazenly alcoholic husband, and a Native American caregiver.

At the schools, Rhode Island College will present Hugh Whitemore's intriguing BREAKING THE CODE (February 15-19). The profile of British mathematician Alan Turing shows him cracking the Nazi's supposedly unbreakable Enigma code and explores his conflicted life in the closet.

Brown University Brownbrokers is staging the original musical WE CAN REBUILD HIM, with music and book by Deepali Gupta (March 1-11). And the Brown/Trinity Rep MFA program will present two productions in rotating repertory: VENUS, by Suzan Lori Parks, and Samuel Beckett's WAITING FOR GODOT (March 1-18).

Speaking of existentialist classics, Roger Williams University is doing Jean-Paul Sartre's NO EXIT (February 3-4) and Beckett's ENDGAME (March 23-24). For comic relief between them, they will stage THE BEAUX' STRATEGEM, by George Farquhar, adapted by Thornton Wilder and Ken Ludwig (February 23-March 3).

In Cranston, Burbage Theatre Company is doing Eugene Ionesco's THE LESSON, plus an original play written in tribute to the recently deceased Vaclav Havel, at William Hall Library (March 15-24).

The absurdist trend is kicked off by Wilbury Group Theatre's take on Eugène Ianesco's EXIT THE KING (January 5-15) at 95 Empire Street. The 1962 drama is the third part of the playwright's Berenger Cycle, the others being The Killer (1958) Rhinoceros (1959), and A Stroll In the Air (1963). In Exit the King, Berenger is an angry and narcissistic monarch.

At the University of Rhode Island, one of Molière's most popular farces, TARTUFFE, is on for February 23-March 4. Providence College is staging the lighthearted LEND ME A TENOR, by Ken Ludwig (January 27-February 5), and contrasting that with the drama POOR MURDERER, by Pavel Kohout (March 30-April 15). Czech-born Kohout, expelled as a Prague Spring dissident in the 1970s, set the play in a Russian hospital, the St. Elizabeth Institute for Nervous Disasters, in which an actor who has played Hamlet thinks he really did kill Polonius.

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Related: Trinity's Absurd Person Singular, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company takes on Coriolanus, Trinity Rep's uplifting It's A Wonderful Life, More more >
  Topics: Theater , Curt Columbus, Racine, The Merchant of Venice,  More more >
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