On Stage

Desperate Measures

Four plays tell stories of tough protagonists struggling to break free

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True West

No American play has better illustrated sibling rivalry than True West. Sam Shepard’s masterpiece concerns two headstrong brothers and their knack for destroying each other’s lives. The script is fascinating in its own right, revealing the strange relationship between a screenwriter, his outlaw brother, and the Hollywood producer who could make them both famous. But theater people love True West because of its dynamic leading men, Lee and Austin, and the emotional bronco they ride together. The Gamm completes its 2017-2018 season with this contemporary classic. Through May 5.

Fun Home

In 2006, the cartoonist Alison Bechdel tried something unusual: She illustrated the story of her childhood, frame by frame. The result was Fun Home, a graphic novel about Alison’s complex relationship with her father. Not only did the book garner critical acclaim, but it was adapted into a Broadway show, winning the Tony Award for Best Musical. The Wilbury Theatre Group brings this story to Olneyville, where Alison’s tragicomic memoir can again come to life. Directed by Wilbury veteran Josh Short, with songs by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori, Fun Home explores themes of family, creativity, and sexual identity, all within the eerie confines of the Bechdel Funeral Home.
May 23-June 16.

Marisol

Anarchist angels! Uzi-wielding homeless people! The apocalyptic ruins of New York City! José Rivera’s play is as wild and free-wheeling as theater gets, and at the center of his story is Marisol, a Manhattan-based copy editor. Marisol Perez didn’t expect to wake up in the middle of a metaphysical battle for the universe, but here she is, and if she can just avoid getting struck with a golf club or ice cream cone, she might survive to tell about it. Trinity Rep stages this surreal dark comedy from 1993 – but if that plot sounds a little too avant-garde, remember that Trinity is also presenting “Little Shop of Horrors,” the beloved cult musical about a nerd, a ditz, and the man-eating plant that brings them together. Marisol performs May 16-June 16; Little Shop of Horrors continues through May 12. 

Waitress: The Musical

Waitress isn’t your typical musical-comedy: Jenna works at Joe’s Diner, she has an abusive husband, and she’s just learned she’s pregnant. How does she turn her life around? She enters a pie-making contest. Based on the indie film of the same name, Waitress was nominated for six Drama Desk Awards. Catch the touring production at the Providence Performing Arts Center, with original songs by Sara Bareilles and Jessie Nelson.
May 28-June 2.