Brits Off Broadway, the second annual in-repertory festival of new and provocative works from the United Kingdom, returns to 59E59 Theaters in Manhattan, offering 11 plays April 5-July 3.
The slate includes Private Fears in Public Places , written and directed by Sir Alan Ayckbourn, marking the New York premiere his resident Yorkshire company, the Stephen Joseph Theatre. The play is "a tale of the misheard, the unspoken and the sadly misunderstood," and runs June 9-July 3.
Despite the tony East Side location of the beehive of pristine intimate spaces on East 59th Street, the fest is slowly gaining a reputation for varied work, including edgy, experimental, exciting performances — the sort you might see at U.K.'s fringe festivals, London's grittier venues and, indeed, downtown Manhattan neighborhoods.
The 2005 Brits Off Broadway schedule is:
April 5-23: When the Bulbul Stopped Singing , adapted by David Greig from the memoir of Palestinian poet, lawyer and writer Raja Shehadeh, directed by Philip Howard. "A harrowing, true account of what it is like to live in the center of a war zone."
April 5-24: Deco Diva, written by and starring Kara Wilson as famous artist Tamara de Lempicka. "Actress and artist Kara Wilson channels renowned artist Tamara de Lempicka in this theatrical event that will thrill art lovers as well as theatre lovers."
April 27-May 22: The People Next Door by Henry Adam, directed by Ian Grieve. "A dark comedy about what happens when someone else's global problem becomes your local one. Or, 'If Snoop Dog wrote an Ealing comedy, this might be it.'"
April 26-May 15: Sisters, Such Devoted Sisters , written and performed by Russell Barr. "A drop-dead funny, violent and unforgettable solo show about the life of Glasgow transvestite Bernice Hindley, self-styled niece of Myra the famous Moors murderess."
May 11-June 5: The Pull of Negative Gravity by Jonathan Lichtenstein, directed by Greg Thompson. "An electrifying play that deals with the grim realities and fall out from the war in Iraq, as a wounded Welsh soldier returns home." The play was a talked-about sensation at the Edinburgh Festival.
May 17-June 5: Mortal Ladies Possessed, adapted from Tennessee Williams' short stories by Matthew Hurt, starring Linda Marlowe. "One of England's great stage actresses brings Williams' prose heroines—full of desire, full of life, sometimes powerful and always desperate— to life in this haunting and hilarious show."
May 24-June 12: Tabloid Caligula , by Darren Murphy. "A hard-edged and hilarious exploration of the mechanics of the criminal underworld."
June 7-26: Faster , created and performed by Filter Theater. "Inspired by James Gleick's best-selling book 'Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything,' a study of the modern world's obsession with speed, Faster is an adrenaline-fueled snapshot of our high-octane lifestyles."
June 9-26: Jackson's Way , written and performed by Will Adamsdale. "American motivational speaker Chris John Jackson celebrates the uplifting effects of pointless behavior." Winner of the Edinburgh Fringe's Perrier Award for comedy.
June 9-July 3: Private Fears in Public Places , written and directed by Sir Alan Ayckbourn. "A tale of the misheard, the unspoken and the sadly misunderstood, this new play by Sir Alan Ayckbourn marks the New York premiere of his company from the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, Yorkshire."
June 14-July 3: Unsuspecting Susan by Stewart Permutt. "Celia Imrie ('Calendar Girls') makes her U.S. stage debut in this play about the drama, intrigue and scandal that lie beneath the surface of the seemingly tranquil life of a Hampshire housewife." *
The festival is presented by 59E59 Theaters (Elysabeth Kleinhans, artistic director; Peter Tear, executive producer).
The single ticket price for each show ranges from $25-$45 ($17.50-$31.50 for 59E59 members). A "Brit Pass," which includes tickets to five shows, is available for $125 (or $100 for 59E59 members). Brit Pass holders will also received 30 percent off the regular ticket price for each additional ticket purchased.
Tickets to Brits Off Broadway are available by calling Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 or online at www.ticketcentral.com.