The Best Theater to See in October

See the Broadway hit “War Horse,” a play inspired by James Beard, and POTUS-inspired standup on Washington stages this month.

By: Sophie Gilbert

OPENING THIS MONTH

Signature Theatre presents the local premiere of Christopher Shinn’s 2006 play, Dying City, about a man whose twin brother has died in Iraq and who shows up at the apartment of his brother’s widow. The New York Times called it “a quiet, transfixing tale of grief and violence.” October 2 through November 25.

October 6 through November 18, Scena Theatre presents an adaptation of Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange. The play was written by Burgess himself after the release of Stanley Kubrick’s movie, and includes the book’s original ending.

Theater J stages Our Class, Tadeusz Słobodzianek’s play about the relationship between Catholic and Jewish classmates growing up in Poland. The drama, which spans 1926 to 2006, was described as “riveting” by the Guardian when it ran at London’s National Theatre in 2009. October 10 through November 4.

October 11 through November 5, Washington Improv Theater presents POTUS Among Us, an election-themed improv show at Source.

Ireland’s Druid Theater Company returns to the Kennedy Center following last year’s acclaimed The Cripple of Inishmaan. This time it presents three works by contemporary playwright Tom Murphy— Conversations on a Homecoming October 17, A Whistle in the Dark October 18, and Famine October 19. They’re also performed consecutively on October 20.

James Still’s I Love to Eat has its area premiere at Round House. The play focuses on the life of food writer/chef James Beard, played by Nick Olcott.

Opening October 17 at Studio Theatre is Dirt, a play by Bryony Lavery about five interconnected lives and the literal and metaphorical significance of dirt in all their existences.

War Horse, the Broadway and London hit about an English boy’s loyalty to his childhood companion—a thoroughbred conscripted to serve in the cavalry during World War I—won five Tony Awards and praise for the remarkably lifelike horses created by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company. It arrives at the Kennedy Center October 23 through November 11.

At the Folger Theatre, Aaron Posner directs The Conference of the Birds, British director Peter Brook and Jean-Claude Carrière’s adaptation of a Persian spiritual fable. It features original music by Helen Hayes Award winner Tom Teasley. October 23 through November 25.

Opening October 25 at Washington Stage Guild is George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. The show offers the chance to see the original play that inspired My Fair Lady, coming to Arena Stage next month. Through November 18.

Happenstance Theater presents an all-new Cabaret Macabre at Round House Silver Spring, October 26 through November 11. The show—inspired by Edward Gorey, melodrama, and “dangerous croquet”—stars Mark Jaster, Sabrina Mandell, and Gwen Grastorf.


ONGOING

One Night With Janis Joplin —written and directed by Randy Johnson with collaboration from Joplin’s siblings—celebrates the ’60s blues rocker at Arena Stage. Through November 4.

Forum presents the world premiere of Kara Lee Corthron’s Holly Down in Heaven. Corthron received the 2010 Paula Vogel Playwriting Award for “an emerging playwright of exceptional promise.” Through October 20.

At Ford’s Theatre, the local premiere of Fly, Trey Ellis and Ricardo Khan’s drama about four World War II Tuskegee Airmen, mixes theater, dance, and video and is directed by Khan. Read our review. Through October 21.

The first of four world premieres at Synetic Theater this season is Jekyll and Hyde, starring Alex Mills as the alter egos created by Robert Louis Stevenson. The show, like most Synetic productions, is wordless. Read our review. Through October 21.

MetroStage’s Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris runs through October 21. Helen Hayes Award winner Natascia Diaz stars.

Also running through October 21 is Olney Theatre’s Over the Tavern, Tom Dudzick’s comedy about a rebellious 12-year-old.

The Government Inspector, Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation of the Nikolai Gogol satire about a corrupt civil servant, continues at Shakespeare Theatre. Tony-nominated actor Derek Smith stars. Read our review. Through October 28.

Arena Stage’s Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins continues through October 28. Kathleen Turner stars. Read our review.


LAST CHANCE

Taffety Punk’s The Rape of Lucrece closes at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop October 6.

Archibald MacLeish’s JB, a theatrical adaptation of the story of Job that won the Pulitzer Prize, closes at American Century Theater October 6.

Constellation Theatre’s production of Alan Ayckbourn’s Taking Steps closes October 7.

Gala Hispanic Theatre’s El desdén con el desdén (In Spite of Love) also runs through October 7. The show is a romantic comedy set in Spain’s Golden Age.

The National Theatre of Scotland’s production of Black Watch—a drama about a Scottish regiment deployed in Iraq—closes October 7 at Shakespeare Theatre. Read our review.

Your last chance to see Signature Theatre’s The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas is also October 7. Read our review.

Studio Theatre’s Invisible Man, Oren Jacoby’s take on the Ralph Ellison novel about African-American identity, closes October 14. Read our review.

A Couple of Blaguards closes at Keegan Theatre October 14.


FOR KIDS

Imagination Stage’s production of P.Nokio: A Hip-Hop Musical closes October 14.

Through October 28, Adventure Theatre has the world premiere of Big, the Musical, based on the 1987 Tom Hanks hit.

The Puppet Co. presents Beauty and the Beast, October 12 through November 16.