March in the local theatre scene has been nothing short of Madness — and that’s a good thing. Here are the things we loved (or didn’t) this week, plus some things to look forward to this weekend and early next week.
For details on any of the shows (like times & ticket info), view them by date on the Calendar page.
This weekend marks the second-annual Intersections Festival. Last year, I loved Intersections — not because I’m normally a comedy fan, but because I’m not and it was the opposite of what I had come to expect. The showcase took all of the usual comedy show fare — weak lines of male bravado, racist leanings, homophobia, transphobia, slut-shaming, fat-shaming, ableism, classism, and whatever other cheap shots you can come up with — and tossed them out the window, leaving the rest of us, who don’t prefer such fare, free to open ourselves up to the humor. And I did. And I laughed. A lot.
This year, the Intersections Festival returns with another full weekend of solid comedy from 44 (!!) performers, in a showcase that affirmatively uplifts underrepresented voices. Confirming their commitment to financial inclusivity as well, the festival’s organizers announced all shows will have pay-what-you-can tickets available. There’s a different show each night (two different shows, in fact), so pay careful attention to the lineups and don’t snooze on it if there’s a performer you’re particularly eager to see. The four-day, seven-show showcase is held at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (Delridge/West Seattle), starting tomorrow (3/21).
In another promising showcase, visionary artist Dani Tirrell curates a festival of Black writers and musicians this weekend. Showing Out: The Word & Shout, produced by the Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas, features the artists Kamari Bright, Brian J. Evans, Le’Ecia Farmer, Gail Haynes, Nadia Imafidon, Janelle Jolly, Mahal Kita, Robert Lashley, Jennifer Moore, Nandi Seboulisa, Kilam T.A., Jacqueline Tabor, The Smiley Experience, and Gina Williams. Two separate lineups perform this Friday and Saturday, plus a special Thursday show in Tacoma.
Sheathed, the new female-centered warrior journey by Maggie Lee and produced by Macha Theatre Works, closes this weekend. It’s a great show that’s at once thought-provoking and a lot of fun. Don’t be the only one who missed it. Read my review here, and an interview with the playwright here.
This Saturday, the long-awaited ARTS at King Street Station will open at last! A project of the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, it aims to be an enormous, democratic, more egalitarian kind of gallery, centered around racial equity in displays and decision-making. The first exhibition, called yəhaw̓, celebrates art created by indigenous peoples; the title comes from the Coast Salish story of Native people from all tribes uniting around a common cause and lifting up the sky together. Saturday’s opening festivities — which run from noon to 7 — include installations and performances by the artists.
Early next week, Pork Filled Productions returns with my kinda Shakespeare: some terrific-sounding smut called I Wanna F*** Like Romeo & Juliet. It’s one night only (Monday, 3/25). What more do you need to know?
Also on 3/25 is the second installment of In SEAtu, in the basement at Capitol Cider. With shows at 6 and 7:30, and a short runtime, you can probably catch this before another show (such as the above-mentioned smut one) if you’re so inclined. You can see my write-up of the first episode and the series here.
Jasmine Joshua is an exceptional storyteller, and their latest work, Bread Crumbs — a solo show so named because it traces the clues to the artist finding their non-binary identity — shows off their narrative and performative skills wonderfully. This is MAP’s off-night show and, like with the mainstage show Trevor (see below), the subject description of Bread Crumbs doesn’t adequately cover the humor, feelings, and smart writing packed into this one, either. It’s a work in progress — so even if you saw it earlier, you might want to come through again.
Village Theatre’s version of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (just opened and running now in Issaquah) is tremendous. The lights, sound, and minimal set are stars in the show, creating a real feeling of cacophony and disorder the world can evoke in neurodiverse people (such as those with Autism spectrum disorder). It was a powerful, but not overwhelming, trip. The other stars? All of the actors, who were great; leads Michael Krenning, Jéhan Òsanyìn, James D. Sasser, and Kathryn Van Meter were stellar; and I liked the choreography and direction, too. It’s a show, a cast, and a character to root for.
Speaking of Village Theatre, their new musical written by teenagers, called All that Glitters: A Rock Legend gets its first public glimpse with a staged reading this weekend. I don’t know much about this one, but the cohort they amassed last show produced exceptional work with Sincerely Yours (which wound up on my best-of list), so it’s a program worth looking into.
MAP Theatre tends to do quirky shows, and Trevor — featuring Brandon Ryan as a chimp — is no exception. MAP has really got the humans-as-animals thing down. (Its last show, Year of the Rooster, featured Shane Regan as a really convincing fighting rooster.) The show, though, is a lot more than that. Playwright Nick Jones craftily unearths humor and emotion in a tragic true story about a celebrity chimp that’s kept as a pet, and his doting but clueless human mother. And yes, Brandon Ryan (and the rest of the cast) perform it exceptionally well. With great direction by Julie Beckman. Note: showing its commitment to inclusive theatre, MAP sells ALL of its tickets on a name-your-own-price model. Advance sales start at $5 (with no added fees) for everybody.
Cayman Ilika and Kate Jaeger are a delight in Always … Patsy Cline, on now at Taproot Theatre. The show has a paper-thin plot; instead, it’s basically a musical revue of Cline’s too-brief career, in which Ilika’s voice and mannerisms shine in the title role, and Jaeger is a hoot as a friend and fan. Both are reprising their roles from two prior local shows. The downsides? Aim for the first few rows at Taproot’s smaller Isaac studio theatre: Ilika’s vocals were poorly mic’d (which is a real bummer), and the steeply raked seating, looking down upon the stage, does this show no favors.
The best part of Annie Baker’s John, currently on at ArtsWest Theatre (West Seattle), is Suzy Hunt’s portrayal of an older blind woman who may be mad. I like Marianne Owen an awful lot, but this role makes little use of her considerable talent. If the show was just the two of them sitting around launching into various diatribes for 90 minutes, I’d be into it. Instead, it’s three hours (!!) of very, very little. Sloppy direction is the biggest hindrance here — the second show in a row that’s been the case in their current season.
Base, the new home to 12 Minutes Max, put on a pretty decent show this past Sunday and Monday. I hated none of them. However, the most memorable part of the show was there was a loud tuba going on throughout half the performances — which may have been the biggest spice this episode had to offer. (And it wasn’t even them — it was sound escaping from the variety show next door — but it made for a unique backdrop anyway.) I would have liked to see more risks, and more melanin. Next 12MM is June 2-3, with curators and artists not selected yet; auditions are scheduled for May 5. Read more about Base and the series here.
For more details on any of the above shows, check out NWT’s Calendar page.