There’s no better way to relieve our own pre-election (and possibly post-election) stresses than to watch characters onstage battle theirs. Here are five productions in which thoughtfulness, humor, creativity and the occasional hatchet solve the problems at hand—and we’re betting they will be worth your theatergoing time and money this month.
Vicuña at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, Oct 30–Nov 20
The lives of a tailor and his apprentice are focused on making the finest-quality men’s suits. But what happens when their customer is a real estate tycoon and reality TV star who has newly become a skyrocketing political candidate? Jon Robin Baitz (TV’s Brothers & Sisters and theater’s The Substance of Fire) tells the tale. Robert Egan, formerly producing artistic director at Center Theatre Group and the director of Baitz’s Other Desert Cities on the Taper Stage, helms Vicuña—staring Linda Gehringer, Brian George, Harry Groener, Ramiz Monsef and Samantha Sloyan. 9820 Washington Blvd, Culver City. Wed-Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 1pm & 6:30 pm. $25–$70. 213-628-2772.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Independent Shakespeare Co. at Atwater Crossing, through Nov 20
Mortals and fairies, royalty and mechanicals, all are brought together to hammer out their conflicts with the help of humor and magic. Independent Shakespeare Co., one of L.A.’s preeminent purveyors of the Bard’s plays, turns its indoor space into those Athenian woods under the direction of David Melville. The play stars Jose Acain, Sam Breen, April Fritz, Martha T. Newman, Faqir Hassan, Tatiana Louder, Evan Lewis Smith, Erwin Tuazon and Kalean Ung. Independent Studio in the Atwater Crossing Arts + Innovation Complex, 3191 Casitas Ave, #168, in Atwater Village. Ample free lot and street parking. $20-$35. A limited number of free tickets are available for each performance so that price is not an obstacle to attending live theater. 818-710-6306.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch at Pantages Theatre, Nov 2–Nov 27
Nonbinary, genderqueer, however Hedwig gets tagged, this glam-rock musical is a star vehicle for its two lead performers and an unforgettable experience for its audiences. Written by John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask, it tells of an East German who suffered a botched sex-change operation (hence the show’s title). The current incarnation stars Darren Criss (formerly of Glee) as Hedwig, and Lena Hall in her Tony-winning role as Hedwig’s husband—though in select performances she will appear as Hedwig. Either way, what a glorious opportunity for the audience to walk a mile in Hedwig’s platform boots. 6233 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood. Tue-Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 1pm & 6:30pm. $35–$175. 800-982-2787.
The Beauty Queen of Leenane at Mark Taper Forum, Nov 16–Dec 18
In Leenane, Ireland, a lonely spinster has one last chance at love. As usual, her manipulative ma destroys that chance. But Maureen has something up her sleeve. Garry Hynes, co-founder of Ireland’s Druid Theatre Company, and the first woman to win a directing Tony, takes on Martin McDonagh’s script. Speaking of Tonys, Marie Mullen, who played Maureen in the original 1996 production and earned a Tony Award for her performance, here plays Maureen’s mother, Mag. The production also stars Aaron Monaghan, Aisling O’Sullivan and Marty Rea. 135 N Grand Ave, Downtown Los Angeles. Tue-Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 1pm & 6:30pm. $25–$85. 213-972-4400.
Bakersfield Mist at Fountain Theatre, Nov 19–Dec 18
This story is torn from the headlines, though probably not The New York Times: An unemployed bartender living in a trailer park believes a painting she bought for $3 is a Jackson Pollack. But of course the play goes deeper—into who we are and what art is. Stephen Sachs wrote and directs the piece, which played the Fountain in 2011 and was snagged by London’s West End for a run. Also returning are the original stars, real-life married couple Jenny O’Hara and Nick Ullett, in this oil-and-water matchup. 5060 Fountain Ave, Los Angeles. Fri-Sat 8pm, Sun 2pm, Mon 8pm. $15–$35, Mondays are pay-what-you-can. 323-663-1525.
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