Two Plays to See in NYC Over New Year’s
If you’re ringing in the New Year in New York, why not add some theater to your celebrations? Two comedies — one gay, one transgender — might be just the ticket. Both can be found off-Broadway, within a block of each other on 42nd Street, and both are in charmingly intimate venues that will make you feel almost part of the action. Best of all, they’re superbly performed, and will leave you with a smile (and, in the case of Hir, a lot to think about!).
Mark Gerrard’s play – a mostly humorous study of how quickly the comfortable lives of middle-aged adults can be disrupted – works hard to please the audience, and it does. The show is laced with funny one-liners, brightly paced by director Cynthia Nixon, and expertly performed by six fine comic actors, especially Matt McGrath and Mario Cantone. Ultimately, I found its affluent world too insular, but there’s plenty of humor and pathos. If you go, by all means get there early. There’s a captivating preshow concert of musical theater songs, lustily delivered by the cast. And make sure you stay for the deliciously sly curtain call, a mini-show in itself – it’s beguiling from start to finish, and you’ll want to sing along. (Full review here.)
Through January 3rd, New Group at the Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 West 42nd Street, thenewgroup.org.
Taylor Mac’s electrifying, take-no-prisoners play struck me like a bolt of lightening. Mac, an agent provocateur who explores (explodes might be more like it) sexual identity, takes on nothing less than the American family, and in every possible sense, turns it on its head. Hir simultaneously skewers and celebrates transgender politics, and it doesn’t stop there. The beauty of the show is that it will resonate differently for different viewers. I laughed out loud at the dizzying discussions of gender nomenclature (“Hir” – pronounced “here” – is the transgender son’s preferred pronoun) – but also found myself almost shaken by the play’s insights. In director Niegel Smith’s vivid production, superbly designed and performed, actress Kristine Nielsen crowns a career of dazzlingly off-center comedic turns. (Full review here.)
Through January 3rd, Playwrights Horizons, 416 West 42nd Street, playwrightshorizons.org.
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