Mark Cofta’s theater picks: Anne Frank, Anouilh, Marie, and more

Bob Schmidt and Tina Brock in IRC's 'Time Remembered.' (Photo by Johanna Austin.)

Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium’s annual winter show is their first by underappreciated Frenchman Jean Anouilh (1910-1987). Time Remembered (Leocadia) runs February 6 through March 4 at the Walnut’s Studio 5, and director Jack Tamburri has a fresh interpretation for this exquisitely textured, absurdity-laced bittersweet romance (in an English version by Patricia Moyes). IRC artistic director Tina Brock stars with Corinna Burns and Ashton Carter.

People’s Light revisits The Diary of Anne Frank (February 21 through March 31). Expect this production to differ wildly from director David Bradley’s 2001 staging of Wendy Kesselman’s adaptation of Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett’s 1955 script. Given today’s political climate, Bradley’s multiracial casting should inspire debate: will actors of Asian and African descent playing Dutch Jews diffuse the play's message, or will their talents illuminate the true story’s universal themes?

Marie Antoinette, taxidermy, and white guilt

David Adjmi’s Marie Antoinette (February 14 through March 10) reimagines the “let them eat cake” queen in brilliant director Brenna Geffers’s debut with Curio Theatre Company. Jennifer Summerfield plays the title role, with the always excellent Brian McCann as King Louis and scenic wizard Paul Kuhn designing.

Inis Nua Theatre Company’s Love, Lies and Taxidermy (February 14 through March 4)  introduces Welsh playwright Alan Harris’s romantic comedy about unrequited teenage love, an ice-cream truck, and unusual taxidermy in a small town. Francesca Piccioni, Seth Reichgott, and Joseph Teti each play multiple roles.

David Jacobi’s Ready Steady Yeti Go (February 21 through March 11) continues Azuka Theatre’s season of premieres by local playwrights. We last saw Jacobi’s work in the hilarious spoof of actor training, These Terrible Things (here’s my review) in the 2017 Fringe Festival, which he penned with the Beserker Residents for their University of the Arts residency. Yeti explores a “white guilt perfect storm” in a suburban high school.

Back to school

Villanova University is the second area theater to mount Mr. Burns, a post-electric play (February 6 through 18), Anne Washburn’s acclaimed dark comedy, with rock music about postapocalyptic survivors performing an iconic episode of The Simpsons from memory. Jill Harrison, founder of Directors Gathering, is in charge. Those who enjoy multiple interpretations should note that Bryn Mawr College’s Theatre Department will also stage Mr. Burns (April 11 through 21), directed by Catharine Slusar.

At UArts, Ira Brind School of Theatre Arts events include the annual Equinox New Play Festival (February 8 through 11), featuring new plays produced, written, directed, designed, stage-managed, and performed by students. For the regular season, two plays featuring murder will play in rotation: Jean Genet’s disturbing The Maids (February 16 through 17) and Caryl Churchill’s eerie Icecream (February 15 through 18).

At Temple University, Max Frisch’s dark comedy The Arsonists (February 9 through 11), a free show in conjunction with Philly Theatre Week, lights up the Side Stage at Randall Theater, while Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (February 28 through March 18) fills the big Tomlinson Theater.

Arcadia University’s Theater Department provides the first opportunity to see Sensitive Guys, MJ Kaufman’s play about sexual assault on a college campus, performed by and for actual college students (February 8 through 18). InterAct recently premiered Sensitive Guys to tepid reviews (here’s my BSR take) and less controversy than they anticipated, but the play’s issues are so thorny and timely that it deserves a second look. 

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Want previews of our latest stories about arts and culture in Philadelphia? Sign up for our newsletter.