On Stage

Downward Spirals

Characters unravel – in dark and funny ways – in local theater productions this month



In the wake of the Ivy League admissions scandal, just the title of Joshua Harmon’s new play should make your skin prickle. Is this story about a New England prep school as provocative and uncomfortable as you think it is? Will it make you wriggle in your seat as you contemplate the finer points of privilege and class? You bet! Admissions zeroes in on admissions head Sherri Rosen-Mason, who seems pretty proud of her job diversifying the school she represents – until she hits a snag in her own family. The New York production won a Drama Desk Award for Best New Play, and The Gamm presents a stirring Rhode Island premiere. January 16-February 9. 1245 Jefferson Boulevard, Warwick. 



Christopher Marlowe was a contemporary of William Shakespeare, and you could say that his writing style was pretty similar – poetic monologues performed with Elizabethan grandiloquence. But Shakespeare would never have taken on the subject of Edward II, the controversial 14th-century monarch, whose romantic relationship with the nobleman Gaveston was basically common knowledge. Despite his calamitous ruin, Edward II has become a curious figure in LGBTQ history, as has Marlowe’s risky retelling. This month, see how the Burbage Theatre Co. interprets Edward’s tale. January 23-February 16. 59 Blackstone Avenue, Pawtucket.



The breakup of Simon & Garfunkel in 1970 was one of the great tragedies of contemporary music – and it’s also ripe fodder for a biographical drama. The Simon & Garfunkel Story isn’t your usual jukebox musical, with a flimsy story and sugary layers of nostalgia. This touring production tells the duo’s life story, from their origins as the band Tom & Jerry to their emotional reunion concert in 1980. The blown-up photos and archival video projections are spectacular, of course, but most everyone will buy a ticket to hear live versions of “Cecilia,” “Mrs. Robinson,” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” January 19. The Vets, 1 Avenue of the Arts, Providence.



Prudencia Hart is bookish and introverted, and she’s just finished her academic program in Scottish Studies. As she departs a literary conference, Prudencia has no idea what bizarre, mystical encounters she will soon face. David Greig’s lyrical script is infused with traditional Scottish music and folkloric imagery; originally designed for performance in pubs and bars, the play has been a sleeper-hit in the United Kingdom. The Wilbury brings this atmospheric comedy to Providence and Olneyville, where the company will not only grace the stage of the theater but also make appearances at local watering holes, such as Troop. Prudencia may have to face some demons before the night is through, but the audience will likely relish every minute of it – and spend a lot of time tapping their feet. January 16-February 2. 40 Sonoma Court, Providence.


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