Have theatermakers been reading their crystal balls, or is art imitating life? This month, like most Americans, the local theater world is looking back to examine our present: to high school days, to relocation centers, to FBI investigations, to inhumanity and our means of coping. We’re reading our crystal ball and watching history unfold, and thus bet these five shows, listed in order of closing date, are worth your theatergoing time and money this month.
A Splintered Soul
International City Theatre, Oct 19–Nov 4
In 1947 San Francisco, resettled Holocaust survivors from Poland remain haunted by what they did to survive. If we blur lines to survive, if we repress our sense of right and wrong to avoid death—or, even worse, physical and mental torture—don’t our souls splinter? Marya Mazor directs the script by Alan Lester Brooks.
Long Beach Performing Arts Center, 330 E Seaside Way, Long Beach (562-436-4610). Thu–Sat at 8pm, Sun at 2pm; $35–$49.
East West Players at David Henry Hwang Theater, Oct 18–Nov 11
In Qui Nguyen’s 2015 play, which the playwright describes as a “sex comedy” about his parents, Vietnamese immigrants Quang and Tong fall in love in a relocation camp in Arkansas. The audience, meanwhile, takes a surrealistic road trip across 1970s America, driven by rap music, ninja movies, African-American vernacular English and Twitter. Jennifer Chang directs. Suitability labels warn of strong language, strobes and explosive noises.
120 Judge John Aiso St (213-625-7000). Wed–Sat at 8pm, Sun at 2pm; $40–$60.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
A Noise Within, Oct. 7–Nov. 18
Are you Team Hamlet, on the side of that son so distraught at the way his world is turning out that he lashes irreparably at all near him? Or do you see him as a brash, entitled young student, self-absorbed, disdainful, insolent? Playwright Tom Stoppard takes two minor but memorable characters from Shakespeare’s “greatest” play and shows Hamlet’s story from their viewpoint. Geoff Elliott directs Rafael Goldstein and Kasey Mahaffy.
3352 East Foothill Blvd, Pasadena (626-356-3100). Repertory schedule. $48–$76.
Dear Evan Hansen
Ahmanson Theatre, Oct 17–Nov 25
Have you by any chance been recalling, happily or not, your high school days? In this sensitive smash hit musical with book by Steven Levenson and score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, a student affected by a classmate’s suicide takes on a new persona in an effort to cope and to remake his personal history—and we all feel the pain. Michael Greif directs, Ben Levi Ross stars.
135 N Grand Ave (213-972-4400). Tue–Fri at 8pm; Sat at 2, 8pm; Sun at 1, 6:30pm (also Wed, Nov 21 at 2pm; no show Thu, Nov 22). $99–$285.
Rogue Machine at Electric Lodge, through Dec 30
The real-life J. Robert Oppenheimer—theoretical physicist under investigation by the FBI, married but with a wandering eye, and, most notably, co-creator of the atomic bomb—serves as the subject of Tom Morton-Smith’s play, here in its American premiere (first produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company). John Perrin Flynn directs.
1416 Electric Ave, Venice (855-585-5185). Sat at 8pm, Sun at 3pm, Mon at 8pm; $40.