If you've only read about such famous festivals as the Edinburgh Fringe or about ambitious Off-Broadway-style UK companies committed to new voices, this is a rare chance to witness the kind of work done over there, but on American soil.
The dramafest began April 7 with My Arm, Tim Crouch's critically-acclaimed hourlong show from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Crouch appears in his own piece, opening April 14 and continuing to April 25 at Theater C within the E. 59th Street complex.
In My Arm, "a boy tests his will and the patience of his parents by raising one of his arms above his head and keeping it there for 30 years."
Also in rep in three different spaces at 59E59 Theaters: Sun Is Shining, by the ground breaking British-Chinese Mu Lan Theatre Company, "sets out to shatter Asian stereotypes." Written and directed by Matt Wilkinson, it's "a darkly comic story of a love affair between a mixed-raced city trader and a recovering alcoholic Scottish artist." (Theater B, April 20-May 9)The Woman Destroyed, translated by and starring Diana Quick, "is a modern re-telling of Simone de Beauvoir's heart-wrenching tale of the betrayal and self-pity one woman feels on New Years Eve in her London flat." (Theater C, April 27-May 16)Heavenly, presented by the internationally acclaimed British theatre company Frantic Assembly, "is a show that ponders 59 things you need never do again when you are dead." The company "is renowned for attracting new and young audiences to the theatre." (Theater B, May 11-May 30)Cooking for Kings, starring acclaimed actor and writer, Ian Kelly, is directed by Simon Green and based on Kelly's best-selling biography. Cooking for Kings "is a solo show based on the life of Antonin Careme, the first celebrity chef, and follows his rise to become a chef for Napoleon, the Prince Regent, Tsar Alexander I and others." (Theater C, May 18-June 6)Absolutely Fascinating, presented by Britain's trio, Fascinating Aida, is a satirical musical comedy. "They bring their new show to New York, direct from their sold-out season at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, a record-breaking UK tour and a hit season at the Comedy Theater in London's West End for which they were nominated (for the third time) for the Best Entertainment Olivier Award." (Theater A, May 20-June 13)Ghost City, presented by Wales' Sgript Cymru, is the fourth hit written by Gary Owen and directed by Simon Harris. The work is "a dark and sexy live performance underscored by free jazz and an electronic sound score," following the events of 24 lives, over the course of 24 hours, "all linked in a way no one could predict." (Theater B, June 1-13)Berkoff's Women, playing in repertory with No Fear!, both starring Linda Marlowe. Berkoff's Women "is a compilation of the most rewarding moments of Berkoff's female roles," and No Fear! "is a set of entirely real events from Linda Marlowe's extraordinary life." A rotating performance schedule allows you to see both shows on Saturday and Sunday and on consecutive weekdays. (Theater C, June 8-July 4)Hurricane, presented by Ransom Productions, Belfast Northern Ireland's newest theatre company, stars the author, Richard Dormer, and is directed by Rachel O'Riordan. Hurricane is "an astonishing and devastating portrayal of the life of Northern Ireland's World Champion snooker-player, enjoyed sold-out runs in London's Soho Theatre and Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where Richard Dormer was named Best Actor. (Theater B, June 15-July 4)
The Straits, presented by Paines Plough, Britain's leading theatre for new work, is new Scottish writer Gregory Burke's second play. "It follows an extraordinary summer in the lives of four teenagers in the Straits of Gibraltar during the Falklands War of 1982." John Tiffany directs, with movement by Steven Hoggett, following a popular UK tour. (Theater A, June 15-July 4) The 59E59 Theaters are at 59 E. 59th Street between Park and Madison. Tickets range $30-$50. For information, call (212) 279-4200 or visit www.59e59.org.