Next up at Off-Broadway's Jean Cocteau Repertory is The Imaginary Invalid (prev. Mar. 13; opens Mar. 15; through May 8). In Moliere's farce, protagonist Argan proves to be "as wealthy as he thinks he is unhealthy," making him the target of charlatans and an avaricious wife. Luckily, Argan's maid is the smartest one in the household.
Cocteau veteran Craig Smith (Tartuffe, What The Butler Saw, Lulu) stars, alongside Mary Ellen Taylor, Tracey Atkins, Charles Parnell, and Smith's real-life wife, Elise Stone. Designing Invalid are Peggy McKowen (set), Jonathan Polgar (lighting) and Patrick Heydenburg (set). Producing artistic director Scott Shattuck directs, with Loi Leabo choreographing.
Also in repertory at the space is The Man in the Glass Booth. Most folks know Robert Shaw as the screw-loose sailor in Jaws, but he also gained acclaim for this, his only play, penned in 1968. Booth concerns an eccentric Jewish real estate developer accused of being a sadistic Nazi officer. The show began its rare revival Jan. 16. Good reviews and audience interest have extended that show's run past its scheduled March 26 close to April 24.
Eve Adamson directs this darkly psychological piece, which is deliberately unclear about whether the protagonist is a survivor or a monster. Harris Berlinsky, a 20-year Cocteau veteran, plays Goldman, with Christopher Black, Elise Stone, Charles Parnell and Marilyn Bernard also featured.
Designing the show are Adamson (lighting), Robert Klinglehoffer (set) and Margaret McKowen (costumes). Booth opens Jan. 18 and is scheduled to run through March 26. The play was filmed in 1975 by Arthur Hiller, but Shaw was unhappy with the results and demanded his name be removed from the credits.
After Invalid, director Shattuck will stage Lanford Wilson's Talley & Son (prev May 22; opens May 24; runs to June 21), in which two family businesses are rocked by scandal. Wilson's other Talley tales were Talley's Folly and The Fifth of July.
Founded in 1971, Jean Cocteau Repertory uses a resident company of actors to bring American and European classics to Off-Broadway. The company is located in the olde-timey Bouwerie Lane Theatre on New York's Lower East Side. For tickets ($20-$29) and information on the season, call (212) 677-0060.
-- By David Lefkowitz