It seems Dodgers season and planning summer road trips are not on the minds of Los Angeles theater-makers: politics, whether national, international, historical or personal, dominate May’s slate of best-bet shows. Adding to our excitement, four are world premieres, and one is a West Coast premiere. We’re betting these five shows, listed in order of closing date, will be worth your theatergoing time and money this month—you know, between the baseball games and camping trips.
Archduke, Mark Taper Forum, through June 4
The captivating Rajiv Joseph (Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo) pens this world premiere, set just before the start of World War I. Three men in Belgrade, Serbia, are diagnosed with tuberculosis. With nothing to lose, they’re easily recruited to commit political violence. Giovanna Sardelli, who helmed Joseph’s Guards at the Taj with humor and horror, directs. 135 N Grand Ave, Downtown Los Angeles. Tue-Fri 8pm, Sat 2:30pm & 8pm, Sun 1pm & 6:30pm. $25–$95. (213) 972-4400.
The House in Scarsdale: A Memoir for the Stage, The Theatre @ Boston Court, through June 4
In this autobiographical world premiere, playwright Dan O'Brien heads out to track down the estranged relatives who ceased communications with him years before. If he discovers his family’s truths, will he be satisfied? Or is it best to leave our family secrets buried? The imaginative Michael Michetti directs. Tim Cummings and Brian Henderson star. 70 N Mentor Ave, Pasadena. Thu-Sat 8pm, Sun 2pm (plus added performance Mon, May 22, $5 at the door). $20–$39. (626) 683-6801.
The Sweetheart Deal, Latino Theater Company, in association with El Teatro Campesino, at The Los Angeles Theatre Center (The LATC), May 4–June 4
In this world premiere incorporating the Chicano theater tradition known as “acto,” writer-director Diane Rodriquez traces the historical development of the United Farm Workers movement, as told by two journalists who leave their middle-class lives to volunteer for El Malcriado, the underground newspaper founded by labor leaders and civil-rights activists Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. 514 S Spring St, Downtown Los Angeles. Thu-Sat 8pm, Sun 3pm. $22-$52. (866) 811-4111.
Actually, Geffen Playhouse, May 2–June 11
When Princeton freshman Amber and Tom spend a night together, they agreed on the drinking and their mutual attraction. Whether consent was given is at the crux of the plot. Written by Anna Ziegler—who penned the smart, elegant Photograph 51—this co-world premiere with the Williamstown Theatre Festival examines "gender and race politics, our crippling desire to fit in, and the three sides to every story." Stars Jerry MacKinnon and Samantha Ressler. 10886 Le Conte Ave, Los Angeles. Tue-Fri 8pm, Sat 3pm & 8pm, Sun 2pm & 7pm. $76-$82. (310) 208-5454.
Kiss, Odyssey Theatre, through June 18
Two couples in present-day Syria meet for dinner and a night of TV to take their minds off war. But not all is as it seems, when, "after an unexpected profession of love, an untimely proposal and one kiss later, one of the foursome lies dead on the floor." Chilean playwright Guillermo Calderón’s script transforms as it unfolds, challenging our understanding—of it and of our world. Bart DeLorenzo, champion of intriguing theater, directs this West Coast premiere. 2055 S Sepulveda Blvd, West Los Angeles. Fri-Sat 8pm, Sun 2pm, plus select Wed-Thu 8pm. $15-$34. (310) 477-2055.
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