Theater Critic Picks
It's almost too perfect: a spooky 13 shows to see during the spooky month of October. You want creepy Victorian sisters? You got 'em. Murderous Shakespearean villains? Right here for you. A possible deal with the devil? Buy your ticket now.
Here are the 13 shows to see, in order by start date:
Artist Descending a Staircase
Amphibian Stage Productions, October 3-28
In its first Tom Stoppard play, Amphibian is going big — and a little small. The big is getting Jonathan Fielding, who's taking a hiatus from his role on Broadway in The Play That Goes Wrong, to co-direct with award-winning actor, playwright, and director Brenda Withers, who was singled out as a "person to watch" in 2018 by American Theatre magazine. Withers' name might sound familiar because she was a co-writer of Cyrano, which was a recent triumph for Amphibian. The directors are returning this production to Stoppard's original intention when he wrote it in 1972 by staging it as a radio play, complete with complex foley sounds created by an ensemble cast of four.
Shakespeare Dallas, October 4-14
The Bard's classic drama about a noble general whose life and marriage are sabotaged by theater's most infamous villain stars Jamal Sterling and Caitlin Glass. Shakespeare Dallas' rendition, which moves this month from Samuell Grand Amphitheatre to Addison Circle Park, is set amid war and palace intrigue in the early 20th-century Mediterranean region.
On The Verge or The Geography of Yearning
WingSpan Theatre Company, October 4-20
Playwright Eric Overmyer takes audiences on a mirthful journey through space, time, history, geography, feminism, and fashion, as three Victorian lady travelers take it upon themselves to explore "the mystery of things" and set out for "Terra Incognita," only to discover the future. WingSpan's artistic director, Susan Sargeant, directs, with Marisa Diotalevi, Jennifer Kuenzer, Barrett Nash, and Jeff Burleson comprising the cast.
Kitchen Dog Theater, October 4-28
In this fast-paced, pitch-black comedy by Philip Ridley, a young couple is offered an ideal house by a mysterious stranger. But the satire asks "how far would any of us go to get our dream home?"
Robert's Eternal Goldfish
Brad McEntire, October 5 & 12
After touring North America with his one-man play for the past few months, Dallas native and founding artistic director of Audacity Theatre Lab is bringing the show back home to Dallas. The story follows Mr. Robert J. Roberts, a man brimming with hate for "so many things" who becomes the unlikely custodian of a magical goldfish and finds his misanthropic views suddenly. It's playing a limited engagement at Stomping Ground Comedy Theater.
Gay History Play Festival
Uptown Players, October 12-21
Joining Angels in America: Perestroika, which technically opened last month, Uptown Players is also presenting two plays with gay history themes: Straight and The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey. The first, by Drew Fornarola and Scott Elmegreen, follows 26-year-old investment banker Ben, who is comfortable in his long-term relationship with Emily — until Chris, a college student who's also coming to terms with his sexuality, enters the picture. The second stars Terry Martin, who portrays a dozen roles to tell the story of the disappearance of a teenager and what it means for his small New Jersey town.
Bishop Arts Theatre Center, October 11-28
BATC is opening its 25th season with this regional premiere by Amy Evans. It's based on extensive research, including personal interviews with Nina Simone's bandmates, friends, and family members, and offers a rare look into the heart and mind of an artist known as much for her indictment of American racism as her artistic brilliance.
A Doll's House
WaterTower Theatre, October 12-November 4
Artistic director Joanie Schultz has adapted Henrik Ibsen's 1879 play about domestic secrecy into a 90-minute thriller, with Kate Paulsen and Sam Henderson in the starring roles. Nora and Torvald Helmer are the perfect couple living a storybook life, but for years Nora has been paying off a secret debt, obtained through forging a signature, which saved her husband's life. Shame and blackmail follow, with Nora having the revelation that their lives are not their own.
Men On Boats
Circle Theatre, October 18-November 17
A one-armed captain and a loyal crew (the cast is entirely female, by the way) are the focus of the true(ish) story of the 1869 Grand Canyon expedition in Jaclyn Backhaus' off-the-wall comedy and Circle's season closer.
Theatre Three, October 25-November 18
Two Victorian-era sisters (Agatha and Huldey) and their languid mastiff live out their lives in a manor house on the bleak English moors in Jen Silverman's play with music. Like any apt Gothic tale, they dream of forbidden love, power, and notoriety. The arrival of a hapless governess, the pointed schemes of a scullery maid, and the musings of a moorhen set this odd assembly on a strange and dangerous path.
A Doll's House, Part 2
Stage West, October 25-November 25
Lucas Hnath, the most produced playwright in America right now, looked at Ibsen's A Doll's House and thought, "this needs a sequel." Now Stage West is the presenting the regional premiere of that follow-up which begins 15 years after the original ended. In 1879, Nora Helmer walked out the door, leaving her husband and children and societal constraints behind her. Now there is a knock at that same door, as Nora returns with a favor to ask.
Imprint Theatreworks, October 26-November 10
Did you hear the story of the Johnstone twins? As like each other as two new pins. Willy Russell's hit musical tracks how one mother's desperate decision spirals out to impact not only the woman who went along with it, but two families that can never be the same.
Ochre House, October 27-November 17
Artistic director Matthew Posey has once again been busy, readying a new work with all-new music by composer Justin Locklear and the show's band. This time we're in the piney woods just outside Canton, Georgia, where a recluse named Elwood lives. As Elwood tries to protect a baby from nefarious folks who want him for themselves, he views his unpredictable future in a new light.